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YEAR : 2021

Formin activity and mDia1 contribute to maintain axon initial segment composition and structure

AUTHORS : Zhang W, Ciorraga M, Mendez P, Retana D, Boumedine N, Achon B, Russier M, Debanne D, Garrido JJ.

JOURNAL : Molecular Neurobiology
The axon initial segment (AIS) is essential for maintaining neuronal polarity, modulating protein transport into the axon, and action potential generation. These functions are supported by a distinctive actin and microtubule cytoskeleton that controls axonal trafficking and maintains a high density of voltage-gated ion channels linked by scaffold proteins to the AIS cytoskeleton. However, our knowledge of the mechanisms and proteins involved in AIS cytoskeleton regulation to maintain or modulate AIS structure is limited. In this context, formins play a significant role in the modulation of actin and microtubules. We show that pharmacological inhibition of formins modifies AIS actin and microtubule characteristics in cultured hippocampal neurons, reducing F-actin density and decreasing microtubule acetylation. Moreover, formin inhibition diminishes sodium channels, ankyrinG and βIV-spectrin AIS density, and AIS length, in cultured neurons and brain slices, accompanied by decreased neuronal excitability. We show that genetic downregulation of the mDia1 formin by interference RNAs also decreases AIS protein density and shortens AIS length. The ankyrinG decrease and AIS shortening observed in pharmacologically inhibited neurons and neuron-expressing mDia1 shRNAs were impaired by HDAC6 downregulation or EB1-GFP expression, known to increase microtubule acetylation or stability. However, actin stabilization only partially prevented AIS shortening without affecting AIS protein density loss. These results suggest that mDia1 maintain AIS composition and length contributing to the stability of AIS microtubules.