Proper axonal growth and guidance is essential for neuron differentiation and development. Abnormal neuronal development due to genetic or epigenetic influences can contribute to neurological and mental disorders such as Down syndrome, Rett syndrome, and autism. Identification of the molecular targets that promote proper neuronal growth and differentiation may restore structural and functional neuroplasticity, thus improving functional performance in neurodevelopmental disorders. Using differentiated human neuronal progenitor cells (NPCs) derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), the present study demonstrates that during early stage differentiation of human NPCs, neuron-targeted overexpression constitutively active Rac1 (Rac1CA) and constitutively active Cdc42 (Cdc42CA) enhance expression of P-Cav-1, T-Cav-1, and P-cofilin and increases axonal growth. Similarly, neuron-targeted over-expression of Cav-1 (termed SynCav1) increases axonal development by increasing both axon length and volume. Moreover, inhibition of Cav-1(Y14A) phosphorylation blunts Rac1/Cdc42-mediated both axonal growth and differentiation of human NPCs and SynCav1(Y14A)-treated NPCs exhibited blunted axonal growth. These results suggest that: (1) SynCav1-mediated dendritic and axonal growth in human NPCs is dependent upon P-Cav-1, (2) P-Cav-1 is necessary for proper axonal growth during early stages of neuronal differentiation, and (3) Rac1/Cdc42CA-mediated neuronal growth is in part dependent upon P-Cav-1. In conclusion, Cav-1 phosphorylation is essential for human neuronal axonal growth during early stages of neuronal differentiation.
Keywords: NPCs; Rac1/Cdc42; axonal growth; caveolin-1; iPSCs; phosphorylation.