Regulation of Rap GTPases in mammalian neurons

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Small GTPases are central regulators of many cellular processes. The highly conserved Rap GTPases perform essential functions in the mammalian nervous system during development and in mature neurons. During neocortical development, Rap1 is required to regulate cadherin- and integrin-mediated adhesion. In the adult nervous system Rap1 and Rap2 regulate the maturation and plasticity of dendritic spine and synapses. Although genetic studies have revealed important roles of Rap GTPases in neurons, their regulation by guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) that activate them and GTPase activating proteins (GAPs) that inactivate them by stimulating their intrinsic GTPase activity is just beginning to be explored in vivo. Here we review how GEFs and GAPs regulate Rap GTPases in the nervous system with a focus on their in vivo function.

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