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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Transgenic activation of Ras in neurons promotes hypertrophy and protects from lesion-induced degeneration.

Ras is a universal eukaryotic intracellular protein integrating extracellular signals from multiple receptor types. To investigate its role in the adult central nervous system, constitutively activated V12-Ha-Ras was expressed selectively in neurons of transgenic mice via a synapsin promoter. Ras-transgene protein expression increased postnatally, reaching a four- to fivefold elevation at day 40 and persisting at this level, thereafter. Neuronal Ras was constitutively active and a corresponding activating phosphorylation of mitogen-activated kinase was observed, but there were no changes in the activity of phosphoinositide 3-kinase, the phosphorylation of its target kinase Akt/ PKB, or expression of the anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2 or Bcl-X(L). Neuronal Ras activation did not alter the total number of neurons, but induced cell soma hypertrophy, which resulted in a 14.5% increase of total brain volume. Choline acetyltransferase and tyrosine hydroxylase activities were increased, as well as neuropeptide Y expression. Degeneration of motorneurons was completely prevented after facial nerve lesion in Ras-transgenic mice. Furthermore, neurotoxin-induced degeneration of dopaminergic substantia nigra neurons and their striatal projections was greatly attenuated. Thus, the Ras signaling pathway mimics neurotrophic effects and triggers neuroprotective mechanisms in adult mice. Neuronal Ras activation might become a tool to stabilize donor neurons for neural transplantation and to protect neuronal populations in neurodegenerative diseases.[1]


  1. Transgenic activation of Ras in neurons promotes hypertrophy and protects from lesion-induced degeneration. Heumann, R., Goemans, C., Bartsch, D., Lingenhöhl, K., Waldmeier, P.C., Hengerer, B., Allegrini, P.R., Schellander, K., Wagner, E.F., Arendt, T., Kamdem, R.H., Obst-Pernberg, K., Narz, F., Wahle, P., Berns, H. J. Cell Biol. (2000) [Pubmed]
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