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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 4, 2014

In vivo functions of small GTPases in neocortical development

  • Bhavin Shah

    Bhavin Shah studied Biology at the Universities of Mumbai and Pune (India). He is currently doing his PhD at the University of Münster. His PhD project deals with the role of Rap1 GTPases and their upstream regulators in neuronal polarity and cortical development.

    and Andreas W. Püschel

    Andreas Püschel studied Biology at the Universities of Bonn and Heidelberg. During his PhD he worked from 1986 to 1989 with Peter Gruss first at the ZMBH in Heidelberg and then at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen on the regulation of Hox genes. After postdoctoral studies on Pax genes in zebrafish at the Institute of Neuroscience in Eugene (Oregon), he joined the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt in 1992, where he investigated the role of semaphorins as axon guidance molecules. In 2001, he was appointed Professor in Molecular Biology at the Institute for Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Münster. His current research focuses on identifying and analyzing the signals that direct the differentiation of neurons using knockout mice and live cell imaging.

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From the journal Biological Chemistry


The complex mammalian cortex develops from a simple neuroepithelium through the proliferation of neuronal progenitors, their asymmetric division and cell migration. Newly generated neurons transiently assume a multipolar morphology before they polarize to form a trailing axon and a leading process that is required for their radial migration. The polarization and migration events during cortical development are under the control of multiple signaling cascades that coordinate the different cellular processes involved in neuronal differentiation. GTPases perform essential functions at different stages of neuronal development as central components of these pathways. They have been widely studied using cell lines and primary neuronal cultures but their physiological function in vivo still remains to be explored in many cases. Here we review the function of GTPases that have been studied genetically by the analysis of the embryonic nervous system in knockout mice. The phenotype of these mutants has highlighted the importance of GTPases for different steps of development by orchestrating cytoskeletal rearrangements and neuronal polarization.

Corresponding author: Andreas W. Püschel, Institut für Molekulare Zellbiologie, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Schloßplatz 5, D-48149 Münster, Germany, e-mail:

About the authors

Bhavin Shah

Bhavin Shah studied Biology at the Universities of Mumbai and Pune (India). He is currently doing his PhD at the University of Münster. His PhD project deals with the role of Rap1 GTPases and their upstream regulators in neuronal polarity and cortical development.

Andreas W. Püschel

Andreas Püschel studied Biology at the Universities of Bonn and Heidelberg. During his PhD he worked from 1986 to 1989 with Peter Gruss first at the ZMBH in Heidelberg and then at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen on the regulation of Hox genes. After postdoctoral studies on Pax genes in zebrafish at the Institute of Neuroscience in Eugene (Oregon), he joined the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt in 1992, where he investigated the role of semaphorins as axon guidance molecules. In 2001, he was appointed Professor in Molecular Biology at the Institute for Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Münster. His current research focuses on identifying and analyzing the signals that direct the differentiation of neurons using knockout mice and live cell imaging.


The analysis of Rap1 function was supported by the DFG (SFB 629).


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Received: 2013-11-19
Accepted: 2013-12-24
Published Online: 2014-1-4
Published in Print: 2014-5-1

©2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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