Kalirin is required for BDNF-TrkB stimulated neurite outgrowth and branching.

PMID 27036892


Exogenous brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), acting through TrkB, is known to promote neurite formation and branching. This response to BDNF was eliminated by inhibition of TrkB kinase and by specific inhibition of the GEF1 domain of Kalirin, which activates Rac1. Neurons from Kalrn knockout mice were unable to activate Rac1 in response to BDNF. BDNF-triggered neurite outgrowth was abolished when Kalrn expression was reduced using shRNA that targets all of the major Kalrn isoforms, and reduced in neurons from Kalrn knockout mice. The Kalrn isoforms expressed early in development also include a GEF2 domain that activates RhoA. However, BDNF-stimulated neurite outgrowth in Kalrn knockout neurons was rescued by expression of Kalirin-7, which includes only the GEF1 domain but lacks the GEF2 domain. Dendritic morphogenesis, which requires spatially restricted, coordinated changes in the actin cytoskeleton and in the organization of microtubules, involves essential contributions from multiple Rho GEFs. Since Tiam1, another Rho GEF, is also required for BDNF-stimulated neurite outgrowth, an inhibitory fragment of Tiam1 (PHn-CC-EX) was tested and found to interfere with both Kalirin and Tiam1 GEF activity. The prolonged TrkB activation observed in response to BDNF in Kalrn knockout neurons and the altered time course and extent of ERK, CREB and Akt activation observed in the absence of Kalrn would be expected to alter the response of these neurons to other regulatory factors.