Journal Article

Chronic Ethanol Exposure Alters the Levels, Assembly, and Cellular Organization of the Actin Cytoskeleton and Microtubules in Hippocampal Neurons in Primary Culture

Ana M. Romero, Guillermo Esteban-Pretel, María P. Marín, Xavier Ponsoda, Raúl Ballestín, Juan J. Canales and Jaime Renau-Piqueras

in Toxicological Sciences

Volume 118, issue 2, pages 602-612
Published in print December 2010 | ISSN: 1096-6080
Published online September 2010 | e-ISSN: 1096-0929 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/toxsci/kfq260
Chronic Ethanol Exposure Alters the Levels, Assembly, and Cellular Organization of the Actin Cytoskeleton and Microtubules in Hippocampal Neurons in Primary Culture

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The organization and dynamics of microtubules (MTs) and the actin cytoskeleton are critical for the correct development and functions of neurons, including intracellular traffic and signaling. In vitro ethanol exposure impairs endocytosis, exocytosis, and nucleocytoplasmic traffic in astrocytes and alters endocytosis in cultured neurons. In astrocytes, these effects relate to changes in the organization and/or function of MTs and the actin cytoskeleton. To evaluate this possibility in hippocampal cultured neurons, we analyzed if chronic ethanol exposure affects the levels, assembly, and cellular organization of both cytoskeleton elements and the possible underlying mechanisms of these effects by morphological and biochemical methods. In the experiments described below, we provide the first evidence that chronic alcohol exposure decreases the amount of both filamentous actin and polymerized tubulin in neurons and that the number of MTs in dendrites lowers in treated cells. Alcohol also diminishes the MT-associated protein-2 levels, which mainly localizes in the somatodendritic compartment in neurons. Ethanol decreases the levels of total Rac, Cdc42, and RhoA, three small guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases) involved in the organization and dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton and MTs. Yet when alcohol decreases the levels of the active forms (GTP bound) of Rac1 and Cdc42, it does not affect the active form of RhoA. We also investigated the levels of several effector and regulator molecules of these GTPases to find that alcohol induces heterogeneous results. In conclusion, our results show that MT, actin cytoskeleton organization, and Rho GTPase signaling pathways are targets for the toxic effects of ethanol in neurons.

Keywords: neurons; chronic ethanol; actin; tubulin; MAP2; Rho GTPases

Journal Article.  7700 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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