Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Neurosci. 2004 Oct;7(10):1059-69. Epub 2004 Sep 19.

Control of axonal branching and synapse formation by focal adhesion kinase.

Author information

Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Physiology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA. <>


The formation of neuronal networks in the central nervous system (CNS) requires precise control of axonal branch development and stabilization. Here we show that cell-specific ablation of the murine gene Ptk2 (more commonly known as fak), encoding focal adhesion kinase (FAK), increases the number of axonal terminals and synapses formed by neurons in vivo. Consistent with this, fak mutant neurons also form greater numbers of axonal branches in culture because they have increased branch formation and reduced branch retraction. Expression of wild-type FAK, but not that of several FAK variants that prevent interactions with regulators of Rho family GTPases including the p190 Rho guanine nuclear exchange factor (p190RhoGEF), rescues the axonal arborization phenotype observed in fak mutant neurons. In addition, expression of a mutant p190RhoGEF that cannot associate with FAK results in a phenotype very similar to that of neurons lacking FAK. Thus, FAK functions as a negative regulator of axonal branching and synapse formation, and it seems to exert its actions, in part, through Rho family GTPases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Publication types, MeSH terms, Substances, Grant support

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center