Dendritic arborization and axon outgrowth are critical steps in the establishment of neural connectivity in the developing brain. Changes in the connectivity underlie cognitive dysfunction in neurodevelopmental disorders. However, molecules and associated mechanisms that play important roles in dendritic and axon outgrowth in the brain are only partially understood. Here, we show that microtubule-actin crosslinking factor 1 (MACF1) regulates dendritic arborization and axon outgrowth of developing pyramidal neurons by arranging cytoskeleton components and mediating GSK-3 signaling. MACF1 deletion using conditional mutant mice and in utero gene transfer in the developing brain markedly decreased dendritic branching of cortical and hippocampal pyramidal neurons. MACF1-deficient neurons showed reduced density and aberrant morphology of dendritic spines. Also, loss of MACF1 impaired the elongation of callosal axons in the brain. Actin and microtubule arrangement appeared abnormal in MACF1-deficient neurites. Finally, we found that GSK-3 is associated with MACF1-controlled dendritic differentiation. Our findings demonstrate a novel role for MACF1 in neurite differentiation that is critical to the creation of neuronal connectivity in the developing brain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience