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Int J Dev Neurosci. 2004 May;22(3):165-73.

Enhanced Ras activity in pyramidal neurons induces cellular hypertrophy and changes in afferent and intrinsic connectivity in synRas mice.

Author information

1
Department of Neuroanatomy, Paul Flechsig Institute for Brain Research, University of Leipzig, Jahnallee 59, D-04109 Leipzig, Germany. gaeru@medizin.uni-leipzig.de

Abstract

Neurotrophic actions are critically controlled and transmitted to cellular responses by the small G protein Ras which is therefore essential for normal functioning and plasticity of the nervous system. The present study summarises findings of recent studies on morphological changes in the neocortex of synRas mice expressing Val12-Ha-Ras in vivo under the control of the rat synapsin I promoter. In the here reported model (introduced by Heumann et al. [J. Cell Biol. 151 (2000) 1537]), transgenic Val12-Ha-Ras expression is confined to the pyramidal cell population and starts postnatally at a time, when neurons are postmitotic and their developmental maturation has been basically completed. Expression of Val12-Ha-Ras results in a significant enlargement of pyramidal neurons. Size, complexity and spine density of dendritic trees are increased, which leads, finally, to cortical expansion. However, the main morphological design principles of 'transgenic' pyramidal cells remain preserved. In addition to somato-dendritic changes, expression of Val12-Ha-Ras in pyramidal cells induces augmented axon calibres and upregulates the establishment of efferent boutons. Despite the enlargement of cortical size, the overall density of terminals representing intra- or interhemispheric, specific and non-specific afferents is unchanged or even higher in transgenic mice suggesting a significant increase in the total afferent input to the neocortex. Although interneurons do not express the transgene and are therefore excluded from direct, intrinsic Val12-Ha-Ras effects, they respond with morphological adaptations to structural changes. Thus, dendritic arbours of interneurons are extended to follow the cortical expansion and basket cells establish a denser inhibitory innervation of 'transgenic' pyramidal cells perikarya. It is concluded that expression of Val12-Ha-Ras in pyramidal neurons results in remodelling of neocortical structuring which strongly implicates a crucial involvement of Ras in cortical plasticity.

PMID:
15140470
DOI:
10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2004.02.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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