The proinflammatory cytokine interferon-γ (IFNγ) alters neuronal connectivity via selective regressive effects on dendrites but the signaling pathways that mediate this effect are poorly understood. We recently demonstrated that signaling by Rit, a member of the Ras family of GTPases, modulates dendritic growth in primary cultures of sympathetic and hippocampal neurons. In this study, we investigated a role for Rit signaling in IFNγ-induced dendritic retraction. Expression of a dominant negative Rit mutant inhibited IFNγ-induced dendritic retraction in cultured embryonic rat sympathetic and hippocampal neurons. In pheochromacytoma cells and hippocampal neurons, IFNγ caused rapid Rit activation as indicated by increased GTP binding to Rit. Silencing of Rit by RNA interference suppressed IFNγ-elicited activation of p38 MAPK in pheochromacytoma cells, and pharmacological inhibition of p38 MAPK significantly attenuated the dendrite-inhibiting effects of IFNγ in cultured sympathetic and hippocampal neurons without altering signal transducer and activator of transcription 1 activation. These observations identify Rit as a downstream target of IFNγ and suggest that a novel IFNγ-Rit-p38 signaling pathway contributes to dendritic retraction and may, therefore, represent a potential therapeutic target in diseases with a significant neuroinflammatory component.
- Dendrite retraction
- Hippocampal neuron
- p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase
- Sympathetic neuron
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience