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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Apr 20;107(16):7586-91. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0914514107. Epub 2010 Apr 5.

Dock3 induces axonal outgrowth by stimulating membrane recruitment of the WAVE complex.

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Department of Molecular Neurobiology, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute for Neuroscience, Fuchu, Tokyo 183-8526, Japan.


Atypical Rho-guanine nucleotide exchange factors (Rho-GEFs) that contain Dock homology regions (DHR-1 and DHR-2) are expressed in a variety of tissues; however, their functions and mechanisms of action remain unclear. We identify key conserved amino acids in the DHR-2 domain that are critical for the catalytic activity of Dock-GEFs (Dock1-4). We further demonstrate that Dock-GEFs directly associate with WASP family verprolin-homologous (WAVE) proteins through the DHR-1 domain. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-TrkB signaling recruits the Dock3/WAVE1 complex to the plasma membrane, whereupon Dock3 activates Rac and dissociates from the WAVE complex in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. BDNF induces axonal sprouting through Dock-dependent Rac activation, and adult transgenic mice overexpressing Dock3 exhibit enhanced optic nerve regeneration after injury without affecting WAVE expression levels. Our results highlight a unique mechanism through which Dock-GEFs achieve spatial and temporal restriction of WAVE signaling, and identify Dock-GEF activity as a potential therapeutic target for axonal regeneration.

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