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Cell. 2007 Aug 24;130(4):742-53.

Rac-GAP alpha-chimerin regulates motor-circuit formation as a key mediator of EphrinB3/EphA4 forward signaling.

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Laboratory for Behavioral Genetics, RIKEN Brain Science Institute (BSI), 2-1 Hirosawa Wako-shi, Saitama 351-0198, Japan.


The ephrin/Eph system plays a central role in neuronal circuit formation; however, its downstream effectors are poorly understood. Here we show that alpha-chimerin Rac GTPase-activating protein mediates ephrinB3/EphA4 forward signaling. We discovered a spontaneous mouse mutation, miffy (mfy), which results in a rabbit-like hopping gait, impaired corticospinal axon guidance, and abnormal spinal central pattern generators. Using positional cloning, transgene rescue, and gene targeting, we demonstrated that loss of alpha-chimerin leads to mfy phenotypes similar to those of EphA4(-/-) and ephrinB3(-/-) mice. alpha-chimerin interacts with EphA4 and, in response to ephrinB3/EphA4 signaling, inactivates Rac, which is a positive regulator of process outgrowth. Moreover, downregulation of alpha-chimerin suppresses ephrinB3-induced growth cone collapse in cultured neurons. Our findings indicate that ephrinB3/EphA4 signaling prevents growth cone extension in motor circuit formation via alpha-chimerin-induced inactivation of Rac. They also highlight the role of a Rho family GTPase-activating protein as a key mediator of ephrin/Eph signaling.

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