, Volume 139, Issue 2, pp 283-297
Date: 19 Sep 2012

Reelin promotes microtubule dynamics in processes of developing neurons

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The extracellular matrix protein reelin controls radial migration and layer formation of cortical neurons, in part by modulation of cytoskeletal dynamics. A stabilizing effect of reelin on the actin cytoskeleton has been described recently. However, it is poorly understood how reelin modulates microtubule dynamics. Here, we provide evidence that reelin increases microtubule assembly. This effect is mediated, at least in part, by promoting microtubule plus end dynamics in processes of developing neurons. Thus, we treated primary neuronal cultures with nocodazole to disrupt microtubules. After nocodazole washout, we found microtubule reassembly to be accelerated in the presence of reelin. Moreover, we show that reelin treatment promoted the formation of microtubule plus end binding protein 3 (EB3) comets in developing dendrites, and that EB3 immunostaining in the developing wild-type neocortex is most intense in the reelin-rich marginal zone where leading processes of radially migrating neurons project to. This characteristic EB3 staining pattern was absent in reeler. Also reassembly of nocodazole-dispersed dendritic Golgi apparati, which are closely associated to microtubules, was accelerated by reelin treatment, though with a substantially slower time course when compared to microtubule reassembly. In support of our in vitro results, we found that the subcellular distribution of α-tubulin and acetylated tubulin in reeler cortical sections differed from wild-type and from mice lacking the very low density lipoprotein receptor (VLDLR), known to bind reelin. Taken together, our results suggest that reelin promotes microtubule assembly, at least in part, by increasing microtubule plus end dynamics.