© 2015, the authors. Morphological characteristics of dendritic spines form the basis of cognitive ability. However, molecular mechanisms involved in fine-tuning of spine morphology during development are not fully understood. Moreover, it is unclear whether, and to what extent, these developmental mechanisms determine the normal adult spine morphological features. Here, we provide evidence that α2-isoform of Rac-specific GTPase-activating protein α-chimaerin (α2-chimaerin) is involved in spine morphological refinement during late postnatal period, and furthermore show that this developmental α2-chimaerin function affects adult spine morphologies. We used a series of mice with global and conditional knock-out of α-chimaerin isoforms (α1-chimaerin and α2-chimaerin). α2-Chimaerin disruption, but not α1-chimaerin disruption, in the mouse results in an increased size (and density) of spines in the hippocampus. In contrast, overexpression of α2-chimaerin in developing hippocampal neurons induces a decrease of spine size. Disruption of α2-chimaerin suppressed EphA-mediated spine morphogenesis in cultured developing hippocampal neurons. α2-Chimaerin disruption that begins during the juvenile stage results in an increased size of spines in the hippocampus. Meanwhile, spine morphologies are unaltered when α2-chimaerin is deleted only in adulthood. Consistent with these spine morphological results, disruption of α2-chimaerin beginning in the juvenile stage led to an increase in contextual fear learning in adulthood; whereas contextual learning was recently shown to be unaffected when α2-chimaerin was deleted only in adulthood. Together, these results suggest that α2-chimaerin signaling in developmental stages contributes to determination of the morphological features of adult spines and establishment of normal cognitive ability.
Iwata, R., Matsukawa, H., Yasuda, K., Mizuno, H., Itohara, S., & Iwasato, T. (2015). Developmental RacGAP α2-Chimaerin Signaling Is a Determinant of the Morphological Features of Dendritic Spines in Adulthood. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35(40), 13728–13744. https://doi.org/10.1523/jneurosci.0419-15.2015