Multifaceted Functions of Rab23 on Primary Cilium-Mediated and Hedgehog Signaling-Mediated Cerebellar Granule Cell Proliferation

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J Neurosci. 2021 Aug 11;41(32):6850-6863. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3005-20.2021. Epub 2021 Jul 1.

Multifaceted Functions of Rab23 on Primary Cilium-Mediated and Hedgehog Signaling-Mediated Cerebellar Granule Cell Proliferation

C H H Hor, J C W Lo, A L S Cham, W Y Leong, E L K Goh

Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong SAR, China. Duke-NUS Medical School, Neuroscience Academic Clinical Programme, Singapore, 169857. Department of Research, National Neuroscience Institute, Singapore, 308433. Neuroscience and Mental Health Faculty, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 308232. KK Research Center, KK Women's and Children's Hospital, Singapore, 229899.

Service type: Knockout mice


Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling from the primary cilium drives cerebellar granule cell precursor (GCP) proliferation. Mutations of hedgehog (Hh) pathway repressors commonly cause medulloblastoma, the most prevalent and malignant childhood brain tumor that arises from aberrant GCP proliferation. We demonstrate that Nestin Cre-driven conditional knock-out (CKO) of a Shh pathway repressor-Rab23 in the mouse brain of both genders caused mis-patterning of cerebellar folia and elevated GCP proliferation during early development, but with no prevalent occurrence of medulloblastoma at adult stage. Strikingly, Rab23-depleted GCPs exhibited upregulated basal level of Shh pathway activities despite showing an abnormal ciliogenesis of primary cilia. In line with the compromised ciliation, Rab23-depleted GCPs were desensitized against Hh pathway activity stimulations by Shh ligand and Smoothened (Smo) agonist-SAG, and exhibited attenuated stimulation of Smo-localization on the primary cilium in response to SAG. These results implicate multidimensional actions of Rab23 on Hh signaling cascade. Rab23 represses the basal level of Shh signaling, while facilitating primary cilium-dependent extrinsic Shh signaling activation. Collectively, our findings unravel instrumental roles of Rab23 in GCP proliferation and ciliogenesis. Furthermore, Rab23's potentiation of Shh signaling pathway through the primary cilium and Smo suggests a potential new therapeutic strategy for Smo/primary cilium-driven medulloblastoma.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Primary cilium and Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling are known to regulate granule cell precursor (GCP) proliferation. Aberrant overactivation of Shh signaling pathway ectopically increases GCP proliferation and causes malignant childhood tumor called medulloblastoma. However, the genetic and molecular regulatory cascade of GCP tumorigenesis remains incompletely understood. Our finding uncovers Rab23 as a novel regulator of hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway activity and cell proliferation in GCP. Intriguingly, we demonstrated that Rab23 confers dual functions in regulating Shh signaling; it potentiates primary cilium and Shh/Smoothened (Smo)-dependent signaling activation, while antagonizes basal level Hh activity. Our data present a previously underappreciated aspect of Rab23 in mediating extrinsic Shh signaling upstream of Smo. This study sheds new light on the mechanistic insights underpinning Shh signaling-mediated GCP proliferation and tumorigenesis. Keywords: Rab GTPase; ciliogenesis; granule cell precursor; medulloblastoma; primary cilium; sonic hedgehog.

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