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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

P-Rex2, a Rac-guanine nucleotide exchange factor, is expressed selectively in ribbon synaptic terminals of the mouse retina

David M Sherry123* and Bradley A Blackburn2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Cell Biology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, 940 Stanton L Young Blvd, BMSB-553, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA

2 Oklahoma Center for Neurosciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA

3 Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA

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BMC Neuroscience 2013, 14:70  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-70

Published: 11 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate-dependent Rac Exchanger 2 (P-Rex2) is a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) that specifically activates Rac GTPases, important regulators of actin cytoskeleton remodeling. P-Rex2 is known to modulate cerebellar Purkinje cell architecture and function, but P-Rex2 expression and function elsewhere in the central nervous system is unclear. To better understand potential roles for P-Rex2 in neuronal cytoskeletal remodeling and function, we performed widefield and confocal microscopy of specimens double immunolabeled for P-Rex2 and cell- and synapse-specific markers in the mouse retina.

Results

P-Rex2 was restricted to the plexiform layers of the retina and colocalized extensively with Vesicular Glutamate Transporter 1 (VGluT1), a specific marker for photoreceptor and bipolar cell terminals. Double labeling for P-Rex2 and peanut agglutinin, a cone terminal marker, confirmed that P-Rex2 was present in both rod and cone terminals. Double labeling with markers for specific bipolar cell types showed that P-Rex2 was present in the terminals of rod bipolar cells and multiple ON- and OFF-cone bipolar cell types. In contrast, P-Rex2 was not expressed in the processes or conventional synapses of amacrine or horizontal cells.

Conclusions

P-Rex2 is associated specifically with the glutamatergic ribbon synaptic terminals of photoreceptors and bipolar cells that transmit visual signals vertically through the retina. The Rac-GEF function of P-Rex2 implies a specific role for P-Rex2 and Rac-GTPases in regulating the actin cytoskeleton in glutamatergic ribbon synaptic terminals of retinal photoreceptors and bipolar cells and appears to be ideally positioned to modulate the adaptive plasticity of these terminals.

Keywords:
Photoreceptor; Bipolar cell; Cytoskeleton; GEF; Rac GTPase; Actin