Impaired Neurite Contact Guidance in Ubiquitin Ligase E3a (Ube3a)-Deficient Hippocampal Neurons on Nanostructured Substrates

Adv Healthc Mater. 2016 Apr 6;5(7):850-62. doi: 10.1002/adhm.201500815. Epub 2016 Feb 4.


Recent discoveries indicate that during neuronal development the signaling processes that regulate extracellular sensing (e.g., adhesion, cytoskeletal dynamics) are important targets for ubiquitination-dependent regulation, in particular through E3 ubiquitin ligases. Among these, Ubiquitin E3a ligase (UBE3A) has a key role in brain functioning, but its function and how its deficiency results in the neurodevelopmental disorder Angelman syndrome is still unclear. Here, the role of UBE3A is investigated in neurite contact guidance during neuronal development, in vitro. The microtopography sensing of wild-type and Ube3a-deficient hippocampal neurons is studied by exploiting gratings with different topographical characteristics, with the aim to compare their capabilities to read and follow physical directional stimuli. It is shown that neuronal contact guidance is defective in Ube3a-deficient neurons, and this behavior is linked to an impaired activation of the focal adhesion signaling pathway. Taken together, the results suggest that the neuronal contact sensing machinery might be affected in Angelman syndrome.

Keywords: Angelman syndrome; contact guidance; nanostructured materials; neurite; ubiquitin ligase E3a (Ube3a).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus Shape
  • Cell Shape
  • Female
  • Focal Adhesions / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / ultrastructure
  • Neurites / metabolism*
  • Tubulin / metabolism
  • Ubiquitin / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / deficiency*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases / metabolism


  • Tubulin
  • Ubiquitin
  • Ube3a protein, mouse
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases