Rac1 and Rac3 GTPases regulate the development of hilar mossy cells by affecting the migration of their precursors to the hilus

Roberta Pennucci, Stefania Tavano, Diletta Tonoli, Sara Gualdoni, Ivan de Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have previously shown that double deletion of the genes for Rac1 and Rac3 GTPases during neuronal development affects late developmental events that perturb the circuitry of the hippocampus, with ensuing epileptic phenotype. These effects include a defect in mossy cells, the major class of excitatory neurons of the hilus. Here, we have addressed the mechanisms that affect the loss of hilar mossy cells in the dorsal hippocampus of mice depleted of the two Rac GTPases. Quantification showed that the loss of mossy cells was evident already at postnatal day 8, soon after these cells become identifiable by a specific marker in the dorsal hilus. Comparative analysis of the hilar region from control and double mutant mice revealed that synaptogenesis was affected in the double mutants, with strongly reduced presynaptic input from dentate granule cells. We found that apoptosis was equally low in the hippocampus of both control and double knockout mice. Labelling with bromodeoxyuridine at embryonic day 12.5 showed no evident difference in the proliferation of neuronal precursors in the hippocampal primordium, while differences in the number of bromodeoxyuridine-labelled cells in the developing hilus revealed a defect in the migration of immature, developing mossy cells in the brain of double knockout mice. Overall, our data show that Rac1 and Rac3 GTPases participate in the normal development of hilar mossy cells, and indicate that they are involved in the regulation of the migration of the mossy cell precursor by preventing their arrival to the dorsal hilus.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere24819
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 20 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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