Author(s): Linseman DA, Laessig T, Meintzer MK, McClure M, Barth H,
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Abstract Rho family GTPases are critical molecular switches that regulate the actin cytoskeleton and cell function. In the current study, we investigated the involvement of Rho GTPases in regulating neuronal survival using primary cerebellar granule neurons. Clostridium difficile toxin B, a specific inhibitor of Rho, Rac, and Cdc42, induced apoptosis of granule neurons characterized by c-Jun phosphorylation, caspase-3 activation, and nuclear condensation. Serum and depolarization-dependent survival signals could not compensate for the loss of GTPase function. Unlike trophic factor withdrawal, toxin B did not affect the antiapoptotic kinase Akt or its target glycogen synthase kinase-3beta. The proapoptotic effects of toxin B were mimicked by Clostridium sordellii lethal toxin, a selective inhibitor of Rac/Cdc42. Although Rac/Cdc42 GTPase inhibition led to F-actin disruption, direct cytoskeletal disassembly with Clostridium botulinum C2 toxin was insufficient to induce c-Jun phosphorylation or apoptosis. Granule neurons expressed high basal JNK and low p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activities that were unaffected by toxin B. However, pyridyl imidazole inhibitors of JNK/p38 attenuated c-Jun phosphorylation. Moreover, both pyridyl imidazoles and adenoviral dominant-negative c-Jun attenuated apoptosis, suggesting that JNK/c-Jun signaling was required for cell death. The results indicate that Rac/Cdc42 GTPases, in addition to trophic factors, are critical for survival of cerebellar granule neurons.
This article was published in J Biol Chem
and referenced in Advances in Robotics & Automation