Novel brain wiring functions for classical morphogens: a role as graded positional cues in axon guidance
ABSTRACT During embryonic development, morphogens act as graded positional cues to dictate cell fate specification and tissue patterning. Recent findings indicate that morphogen gradients also serve to guide axonal pathfinding during development of the nervous system. These findings challenge our previous notions about morphogens and axon guidance molecules, and suggest that these proteins, rather than having sharply divergent functions, act more globally to provide graded positional information that can be interpreted by responding cells either to specify cell fate or to direct axonal pathfinding. This review presents the roles identified for members of three prominent morphogen families--the Hedgehog, Wnt and TGFbeta/BMP families--in axon guidance, and discusses potential implications for the molecular mechanisms underlying their guidance functions.
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ABSTRACT: Growth cones are highly motile structures found at the leading edge of developing and regenerating nerve processes. Their role in axonal pathfinding has been well established and many guidance cues that influence growth cone behavior have now been identified. Many studies are now providing insights into the transduction and integration of signals in the growth cone, though a full understanding of growth cone behavior still eludes us. This review focuses on recent studies adding to the growing body of literature on growth cone behavior, focusing particularly on the level of autonomy the growth cone possesses and the role of local protein synthesis.Developmental Biology 07/2008; 318(1):102-11. DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.03.012 · 3.64 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Adult neocortical areas are characterized by marked differences in cytoarchitecture and connectivity that underlie their functional roles. The molecular determinants of these differences are largely unknown. We performed a microarray analysis to identify molecules that define the somatosensory and visual areas during the time when afferent and efferent projections are forming. We identified 122 molecules that are differentially expressed between the regions and confirmed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction 95% of the 20 genes tested. Two genes were chosen for further investigation: Bcl6 and Ten_m3. Bcl6 was highly expressed in the superficial cortical plate corresponding to developing layer IV of somatosensory cortex at postnatal day (P) 0. This had diminished by P3, but strong expression was found in layer V pyramidal cells by P7 and was maintained until adulthood. Retrograde tracing showed that Bcl6 is expressed in corticospinal neurons. Ten_m3 was expressed in a graded pattern within layer V of caudal cortex that corresponds well with visual cortex. Retrograde tracing and immunostaining showed that Ten_m3 is highly expressed along axonal tracts of projection neurons of the developing visual pathway. Overexpression demonstrated that Ten_m3 promotes homophilic adhesion and neurite outgrowth in vivo. This suggests an important role for Ten_m3 in the development of the visual pathway.Cerebral Cortex 02/2008; 18(1):53-66. DOI:10.1093/cercor/bhm031 · 8.31 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs) are involved in axon pathfinding, but how they guide growth cones remains elusive. In this study, we report that a BMP7 gradient elicits bidirectional turning responses from nerve growth cones by acting through LIM kinase (LIMK) and Slingshot (SSH) phosphatase to regulate actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin-mediated actin dynamics. Xenopus laevis growth cones from 4-8-h cultured neurons are attracted to BMP7 gradients but become repelled by BMP7 after overnight culture. The attraction and repulsion are mediated by LIMK and SSH, respectively, which oppositely regulate the phosphorylation-dependent asymmetric activity of ADF/cofilin to control the actin dynamics and growth cone steering. The attraction to repulsion switching requires the expression of a transient receptor potential (TRP) channel TRPC1 and involves Ca2+ signaling through calcineurin phosphatase for SSH activation and growth cone repulsion. Together, we show that spatial regulation of ADF/cofilin activity controls the directional responses of the growth cone to BMP7, and Ca2+ influx through TRPC tilts the LIMK-SSH balance toward SSH-mediated repulsion.The Journal of Cell Biology 08/2007; 178(1):107-19. DOI:10.1083/jcb.200703055 · 9.69 Impact Factor