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Overexpressed Down Syndrome Cell Adhesion Molecule (DSCAM) Deregulates P21-Activated Kinase (PAK) Activity in an In Vitro Neuronal Model of Down Syndrome: Consequences on Cell Process Formation and Extension

Abstract

In humans, Down syndrome (DS) is caused by the presence of an extra copy of autosome 21. The most striking finding in DS patients is intellectual disability and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-like neuropathology in adulthood. Gene overdose is most likely to underlie both developmental impairments, as well as altered neuronal function in DS. Lately, the disruption of cellular signaling and regulatory pathways has been implicated in DS pathophysiology, and many of such pathways may represent common targets for diverse DS-related genes, which could in turn represent attractive therapeutical targets. In this regard, one DS-related gene Down Syndrome Cell Adhesion Molecule (DSCAM), has important functions in neuronal proliferation, maturation, and synaptogenesis. p21-associated kinases (PAKs) appear as a most interesting possibility for study, as DSCAM is known to regulate the PAKs pathway. Hence, in DS, overexpressed DSCAM could deregulate PAKs activity and affect signaling pathways that regulate synaptic plasticity such as dendritic spine dynamics and axon guidance and growth. In the present work, we used an immortalized cell line derived from the cerebral cortex of an animal model of DS such as the trisomy 16 (Ts16) fetal mouse (named CTb), and a similar cell line established from a normal littermate (named CNh), to study the effect of DSCAM in the PAKs pathway. The present study shows that DSCAM is overexpressed in CTb cells by approximately twofold, compared to CNh cells. Congruently, PAK1, as well as its downstream effectors LIMK and cofilin, stay phosphorylated for longer periods after DSCAM activation in the CTb cells, leading to an altered actin dynamics, expressed as an increased basal F/G ratio and reduced neurite growth, in the trisomic condition. The present work presents the correlation between DSCAM gene overexpression and a dysregulation of the PAK pathway, resulting in altered morphological parameters of neuronal plasticity in the trisomic cell line, namely decreased number and length of processes.

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Acknowledgments

This work was funded by Fondecyt Grant #1130241 (Chile) to PC, and by The Fondation pour la Recherche sur le Cerveau (FRC) and the Fondation Jérôme Lejeune (J-V. B., France). PC holds patent protection for the CNh and CTb cell lines.

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Correspondence to Pablo Caviedes MD, PhD.

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Pérez-Núñez, R., Barraza, N., Gonzalez-Jamett, A. et al. Overexpressed Down Syndrome Cell Adhesion Molecule (DSCAM) Deregulates P21-Activated Kinase (PAK) Activity in an In Vitro Neuronal Model of Down Syndrome: Consequences on Cell Process Formation and Extension. Neurotox Res 30, 76–87 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12640-016-9613-9

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Keywords

  • P21-activated kinases
  • Trisomy 21
  • Down syndrome
  • DSCAM