During brain development, the small GTPases Rac1/Rac3 play key roles in neuronal migration, neuritogenesis, synaptic formation and plasticity, via control of actin cytoskeleton dynamic. Their activity is positively and negatively regulated by GEFs and GAPs molecules, respectively. However their in vivo roles are poorly known. The ArhGAP15 gene, coding for a Rac-specific GAP protein, is expressed in both excitatory and inhibitory neurons of the adult hippocampus, and its loss results in the hyperactivation of Rac1/Rac3. In the CA3 and dentate gyrus (DG) regions of the ArhGAP15 mutant hippocampus the CR+, PV+ and SST+ inhibitory neurons are reduced in number, due to reduced efficiency and directionality of their migration, while pyramidal neurons are unaffected. Loss of ArhGAP15 alters neuritogenesis and the balance between excitatory and inhibitory synapses, with a net functional result consisting in increased spike frequency and bursts, accompanied by poor synchronization. Thus, the loss of ArhGAP15 mainly impacts on interneuron-dependent inhibition. Adult ArhGAP15-/- mice showed defective hippocampus-dependent functions such as working and associative memories. These findings indicate that a normal architecture and function of hippocampal inhibitory neurons is essential for higher hippocampal functions, and is exquisitely sensitive to ArhGAP15-dependent modulation of Rac1/Rac3.
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