Molecular mechanisms, biological actions and neuropharmacology of the growth-associated protein GAP-43

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180 Scopus citations


GAP-43 is an intracellular growth-associated protein that appears to assist neuronal pathfinding and branching during development and regeneration, and may contribute to presynaptic membrane changes in the adult, leading to the phenomena of neurotransmitter release, endocytosis and synaptic vesicle recycling, long-term potentiation, spatial memory formation, and learning. GAP-43 becomes bound via palmitoylation and the presence of three basic residues to membranes of the early secretory pathway. It is then sorted onto vesicles at the late secretory pathway for fast axonal transport to the growth cone or presynaptic plasma membrane. The palmitate chains do not serve as permanent membrane anchors for GAP-43, because at steady-state most of the GAP-43 in a cell is membrane-bound but is not palmitoylated. Filopodial extension and branching take place when GAP-43 is phosphorylated at Ser-41 by protein kinase C, and this occurs following neurotrophin binding and the activation of numerous small GTPases. GAP-43 has been proposed to cluster the acidic phospholipid phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate in plasma membrane rafts. Following GAP-43 phosphorylation, this phospholipid is released to promote local actin filament-membrane attachment. The phosphorylation also releases GAP-43 from calmodulin. The released GAP-43 may then act as a lateral stabilizer of actin filaments. N-terminal fragments of GAP-43, containing 10-20 amino acids, will activate heterotrimeric G proteins, direct GAP-43 to the membrane and lipid rafts, and cause the formation of filopodia, possibly by causing a change in membrane tension. This review will focus on new information regarding GAP-43, including its binding to membranes and its incorporation into lipid rafts, its mechanism of action, and how it affects and is affected by extracellular agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-304
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Neuropharmacology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Growth cones
  • Neuromodulin
  • Neurotransmitters
  • Neurotrophins
  • Synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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