Functions of Rac GTPases during neuronal development

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The small GTPases of the Rho family are important regulators of the actin cytoskeleton and are critical for several aspects of neuronal development including the establishment of neuronal polarity, extension of axon and dendrites, neurite branching, axonal navigation and synapse formation. The aim of this review is to present evidence supporting the function of Rac and Rac-related proteins in different aspects of neuronal maturation, based on work performed with organisms including nematodes, Drosophila, Xenopus and mice, and with primary cultures of developing neurons. Three of the 4 vertebrate Rac-related genes, namely Rac1, Rac3 and RhoG, are expressed in the nervous system, and several data support an essential role of all 3 GTPases in distinct aspects of neuronal development and function. Two important points emerge from the analysis presented: highly homologous Rac-related proteins may perform different functions in the developing nervous system; on the other hand, the data also indicate that similar GTPases may perform redundant functions in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-58
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Neuroscience
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • Axon
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Dendrite
  • Dendritic spine
  • Exchange factor
  • GTPases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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