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PLoS Genet. 2017 Oct 25;13(10):e1007073. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007073. eCollection 2017 Oct.

RhoGEF9 splice isoforms influence neuronal maturation and synapse formation downstream of α2 GABAA receptors.

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Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland.
Center for Neuroscience Zurich (ZNZ), Zürich, Switzerland.
Neuroscience Center, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


In developing brain neuronal migration, dendrite outgrowth and dendritic spine outgrowth are controlled by Cdc42, a small GTPase of the Rho family, and its activators. Cdc42 function in promoting actin polymerization is crucial for glutamatergic synapse regulation. Here, we focus on GABAergic synapse-specific activator of Cdc42, collybistin (CB) and examine functional differences between its splice isoforms CB1 and CB2. We report that CB1 and CB2 differentially regulate GABAergic synapse formation in vitro along proximal-distal axis and adult-born neuron maturation in vivo. The functional specialization between CB1 and CB2 isoforms arises from their differential protein half-life, in turn regulated by ubiquitin conjugation of the unique CB1 C-terminus. We report that CB1 and CB2 negatively regulate Cdc42; however, Cdc42 activation is dependent on CB interaction with gephyrin. During hippocampal adult neurogenesis CB1 regulates neuronal migration, while CB2 is essential for dendrite outgrowth. Finally, using mice lacking Gabra2 subunit, we show that CB1 function is downstream of GABAARs, and we can rescue adult neurogenesis deficit observed in Gabra2 KO. Overall, our results uncover previously unexpected role for CB isoforms downstream of α2-containing GABAARs during neuron maturation in a Cdc42 dependent mechanism.

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