• Zhang H, Macara IG. The PAR-6 polarity protein regulates dendritic spine morphogenesis through p190 RhoGAP and the Rho GTPase. Developmental cell. 2008 Feb;14(2). 216-26. PMID: 18267090 [PubMed]. PMCID: PMC2768076. NIHMSID: NIHMS152836.

Abstract 

The majority of excitatory synaptic transmission in the brain occurs at dendritic spines, which are actin-rich protrusions on the dendrites. The asymmetric nature of these structures suggests that proteins regulating cell polarity might be involved in their formation. Indeed, the polarity protein PAR-3 is required for normal spine morphogenesis. However, this function is independent of association with atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) and PAR-6. Here we show that PAR-6 together with aPKC plays a distinct but essential role in spine morphogenesis. Knockdown of PAR-6 inhibits spine morphogenesis, whereas overexpression of PAR-6 increases spine density, and these effects are mediated by aPKC. Using a FRET biosensor, we further show that p190 RhoGAP and RhoA act downstream of the PAR-6/aPKC complex. These results define a role for PAR-6 and aPKC in dendritic spine biogenesis and maintenance, and reveal an unexpected link between the PAR-6/aPKC complex and RhoA activity.