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J Biol Chem. 2005 Oct 14;280(41):34735-40. Epub 2005 Jul 26.

ALS2/Alsin regulates Rac-PAK signaling and neurite outgrowth.

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Departments of Neuroscience and Neurology, Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London SE5 8AF, United Kingdom.


Rac and its downstream effectors p21-activated kinase (PAK) family kinases regulate actin dynamics within growth cones to control neurite outgrowth during development. The activity of Rac is stimulated by guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) that promote GDP release and GTP binding. ALS2/Alsin is a recently described GEF that contains a central domain that is predicted to regulate the activities of Rac and/or Rho and Cdc42 activities. Mutations in ALS2 cause some recessive familial forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) but the function of ALS2 is poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that ALS2 is present within growth cones of neurons, in which it co-localizes with Rac. Furthermore, ALS2 stimulates Rac but not Rho or Cdc42 activities, and this induces a corresponding increase in PAK1 activity. Finally, we demonstrate that ALS2 promotes neurite outgrowth. Defects in these functions may therefore contribute to motor neuron demise in ALS.

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