Fusco L, Lefort R, Smith K, Benmansour F, Gonzalez G, Barillari C, Rinn B, Fleuret F, Fua P, Pertz O
J. Cell Biol. 212 (1) 91-111 [2016-01-04; online 2016-01-06]
Rho guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases) control the cytoskeletal dynamics that power neurite outgrowth. This process consists of dynamic neurite initiation, elongation, retraction, and branching cycles that are likely to be regulated by specific spatiotemporal signaling networks, which cannot be resolved with static, steady-state assays. We present NeuriteTracker, a computer-vision approach to automatically segment and track neuronal morphodynamics in time-lapse datasets. Feature extraction then quantifies dynamic neurite outgrowth phenotypes. We identify a set of stereotypic neurite outgrowth morphodynamic behaviors in a cultured neuronal cell system. Systematic RNA interference perturbation of a Rho GTPase interactome consisting of 219 proteins reveals a limited set of morphodynamic phenotypes. As proof of concept, we show that loss of function of two distinct RhoA-specific GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs) leads to opposite neurite outgrowth phenotypes. Imaging of RhoA activation dynamics indicates that both GAPs regulate different spatiotemporal Rho GTPase pools, with distinct functions. Our results provide a starting point to dissect spatiotemporal Rho GTPase signaling networks that regulate neurite outgrowth.