Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 16802292
Ann. Neurol. 2006 Jul;60(1):105-17
OBJECTIVE: Recessive mutations in alsin, a guanine-nucleotide exchange factor for the GTPases Rab5 and Rac1, cause juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS2) and related motoneuron disorders. Alsin function in motoneurons remained unclear because alsin knock-out mice do not develop overt signs of motoneuron degeneration.
METHODS: To generate an alsin loss-of-function model in an ALS-relevant cell type, we developed a new small interfering RNA electroporation technique that allows efficient knock down of alsin in embryonic rat spinal motoneurons.
RESULTS: After small interfering RNA-mediated alsin knockdown, cultured motoneurons displayed a reduced apparent size of EEA1-labeled early endosomes and an increased intracellular accumulation of transferrin and L1CAM. Alsin knockdown induced cell death in 32 to 48% of motoneurons and significantly inhibited axon growth in the surviving neurons. Both cellular phenotypes were mimicked by expression of a dominant-negative Rac1 mutant and were completely blocked by expression of a constitutively active Rac1 mutant. Expression of dominant-negative or constitutively active forms of Rab5 had no such effects.
INTERPRETATION: Our data demonstrate that alsin controls the growth and survival of motoneurons in a Rac1-dependant manner. The strategy reported here illustrates how small interfering RNA electroporation can be used to generate cellular models of neurodegenerative disease involving a loss-of-function mechanism.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16802292