The serine/threonine kinase p21-activated kinase 1 (Pak1) modulates actin and microtubule dynamics. The neuronal functions of Pak1, despite its abundant expression in the brain, have not yet been fully delineated. Previously, we reported that Pak1 mediates initiation of dendrite formation. In the present study, the role of Pak1 in dendritogenesis, spine formation and maintenance was examined in detail. Overexpression of constitutively active-Pak1 in immature cortical neurons increased not only the number of the primary branching on apical dendrites but also the number of basal dendrites. In contrast, introduction of dominant negative-Pak caused a reduction in both of these morphological features. The length and the number of secondary apical branch points of dendrites were not significantly different in cultured neurons expressing these mutant forms, suggesting that Pak1 plays a role in dendritogenesis. Pak1 also plays a role in the formation and maintenance of spines, as evidenced by the altered spine morphology, resulting from overexpression of mutant forms of Pak1 in immature and mature hippocampal neurons. Thus, our results provide further evidence of the key role of Pak1 in the regulation of dendritogenesis, dendritic arborization, the spine formation, and maintenance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience