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    The Small GTPase Rac1 is critical for various fundamental cellular processes, including cognitive functions. The cyclical activation and inactivation of Rac1, mediated by Rac guanine nucleotide exchange factors (RacGEFs) and Rac GTPase-activating proteins (RacGAPs), respectively, are essential for activating intracellular signaling pathways and controlling cellular processes. We have recently shown that the Alzheimer's disease (AD) therapeutic drug donepezil activates the Rac1-PAK pathway in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) for enhanced aversive learning. Also, PAK activation itself in the NAc enhances aversive learning. As aversive learning allows short-term preliminary AD drug screening, here we tested whether sustained Rac1 activation by RacGAP inhibition can be used as an AD therapeutic strategy for improving AD-learning deficits based on aversive learning. We found that the RacGAP domain of breakpoint cluster region protein (Bcr) (Bcr-GAP) efficiently inhibited Rac1 activity in a membrane ruffling assay. We also found that, in striatal/accumbal primary neurons, Bcr knockdown by microRNA mimic-expressing adeno-associated virus (AAV-miRNA mimic) activated Rac1-PAK signaling, while Bcr-GAP-expressing AAV inactivated it. Furthermore, conditional knockdown of Bcr in the NAc of wild-type adult mice enhanced aversive learning, while Bcr-GAP expression in the NAc inhibited it. The findings indicate that Rac1 activation by RacGAP inhibition enhances aversive learning, implying the AD therapeutic potential of Rac1 signaling.


    Huanhuan Wang, Yukie Yamahashi, Marcel Riedl, Mutsuki Amano, Kozo Kaibuchi. The Evaluation of Rac1 Signaling as a Potential Therapeutic Target of Alzheimer's Disease. International journal of molecular sciences. 2023 Jul 25;24(15)

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    PMID: 37569255

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