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Reviews in the Neurosciences

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Volume 29, Issue 8


Rab23 and developmental disorders

Catherine H.H. HorORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7467-2243 / Bor Luen TangORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1925-636X
  • Department of Biochemistry, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117597, Singapore
  • NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering, National University of Singapore, Medical Drive, Singapore 117456, Singapore
  • orcid.org/0000-0002-1925-636X
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Eyleen L.K. Goh
  • Corresponding author
  • Neuroscience Academic Clinical Programme, Duke-NUS Medical School, 8 College Road, Singapore 169857, Singapore
  • Department of Research, National Neuroscience Institute, Singapore 308433, Singapore
  • Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, 8 Medical Drive, Singapore 117597, Singapore
  • KK Research Center, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore 229899, Singapore
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-05-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2017-0110


Rab23 is a conserved member of the Rab family of small GTPases that regulates membrane trafficking in eukaryotes. It is unique amongst the Rabs in terms of its implicated role in mammalian development, as originally illustrated by the embryonic lethality and open neural tube phenotype of a spontaneous mouse mutant that carries homozygous mutation of open brain, a gene encoding Rab23. Rab23 was initially identified to act as an antagonist of Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling, and has since been implicated in a number of physiological and pathological roles, including oncogenesis. Interestingly, RAB23 null allele homozygosity in humans is not lethal, but instead causes the developmental disorder Carpenter’s syndrome (CS), which is characterized by craniofacial malformations, polysyndactyly, obesity and intellectual disability. CS bears some phenotypic resemblance to a spectrum of hereditary defects associated with the primary cilium, or the ciliopathies. Recent findings have in fact implicated Rab23 in protein traffic to the primary cilium, thus linking it with the primary cellular locale of Shh signaling. Rab23 also has Shh and cilia-independent functions. It is known to mediate the expression of Nodal at the mouse left lateral plate mesoderm and Kupffer’s vesicle, the zebrafish equivalent of the mouse node. It is thus important for the left-right patterning of vertebrate embryos. In this review, we discuss the developmental disorders associated with Rab23 and attempt to relate its cellular activities to its roles in development.

Keywords: Carpenter syndrome; ciliogenesis; primary cilia; Rab23; Sonic hedgehog


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About the article

Received: 2017-12-20

Accepted: 2018-03-03

Published Online: 2018-05-04

Published in Print: 2018-11-27

Citation Information: Reviews in the Neurosciences, Volume 29, Issue 8, Pages 849–860, ISSN (Online) 2191-0200, ISSN (Print) 0334-1763, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/revneuro-2017-0110.

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