• We are sorry, but NCBI web applications do not support your browser and may not function properly. More information
Logo of jcellbiolHomeThe Rockefeller University PressEditorsContactInstructions for AuthorsThis issue
J Cell Biol. Jun 1, 1971; 49(3): 614–635.
PMCID: PMC2108504

ULTRASTRUCTURE AND FUNCTION OF GROWTH CONES AND AXONS OF CULTURED NERVE CELLS

Abstract

Dorsal root ganglion nerve cells undergoing axon elongation in vitro have been analyzed ultrastructurally. The growth cone at the axonal tip contains smooth endoplasmic reticulum, vesicles, neurofilaments, occasional microtubules, and a network of 50-A in diameter microfilaments. The filamentous network fills the periphery of the growth cone and is the only structure found in microspikes. Elements of the network are oriented parallel to the axis of microspikes, but exhibit little orientation in the growth cone. Cytochalasin B causes rounding up of growth cones, retraction of microspikes, and cessation of axon elongation. The latter biological effect correlates with an ultrastructural alteration in the filamentous network of growth cones and microspikes. No other organelle appears to be affected by the drug. Removal of cytochalasin allows reinitiation of growth cone-microspike activity, and elongation begins anew. Such recovery will occur in the presence of the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide, and in the absence of exogenous nerve growth factor. The neurofilaments and microtubules of axons are regularly spaced. Fine filaments indistinguishable from those in the growth cone interconnect neurofilaments, vesicles, microtubules, and plasma membrane. This filamentous network could provide the structural basis for the initiation of lateral microspikes and perhaps of collateral axons, besides playing a role in axonal transport.

Full Text

The Full Text of this article is available as a PDF (2.8M).

Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • ABERCROMBIE M. The bases of the locomotory behaviour of fibroblasts. Exp Cell Res. 1961;Suppl 8:188–198. [PubMed]
  • Bray D. Surface movements during the growth of single explanted neurons. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1970 Apr;65(4):905–910. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Carter SB. Effects of cytochalasins on mammalian cells. Nature. 1967 Jan 21;213(5073):261–264. [PubMed]
  • Cohen S. PURIFICATION OF A NERVE-GROWTH PROMOTING PROTEIN FROM THE MOUSE SALIVARY GLAND AND ITS NEURO-CYTOTOXIC ANTISERUM. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1960 Mar;46(3):302–311. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • De Cerro MP, Snider RS. Studies on the developing cerebellum. Ultrastructure of the growth cones. J Comp Neurol. 1968 Jul;133(3):341–362. [PubMed]
  • Hepler PK, McIntosh JR, Cleland S. Intermicrotubule bridges in mitotic spindle apparatus. J Cell Biol. 1970 May;45(2):438–444. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • HUGHES A. The growth of embryonic neurites; a study of cultures of chick neural tissues. J Anat. 1953 Apr;87(2):150–162. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Kanaseki T, Kadota K. The "vesicle in a basket". A morphological study of the coated vesicle isolated from the nerve endings of the guinea pig brain, with special reference to the mechanism of membrane movements. J Cell Biol. 1969 Jul;42(1):202–220. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Lyser KM. Early differentiation of motor neuroblasts in the chick embryo as studied by electron microscopy. II. Microtubules and neurofilaments. Dev Biol. 1968 Feb;17(2):117–142. [PubMed]
  • Martinez AJ, Friede RL. Accumulation of axoplasmic organelles in swollen nerve fibers. Brain Res. 1970 Apr 14;19(2):183–198. [PubMed]
  • Metuzals J. Configuration of a filamentous network in the axoplasm of the squid (Loligo pealii L.) giant nerve fiber. J Cell Biol. 1969 Dec;43(3):480–505. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Metuzals J, Izzard CS. Spatial patterns of threadlike elements in the axoplasm of the giant nerve fiber of the squid (Loligo pealii L.) as disclosed by differential interference microscopy and by electron microscopy. J Cell Biol. 1969 Dec;43(3):456–479. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • NAKAI J. Dissociated dorsal root ganglia in tissue culture. Am J Anat. 1956 Jul;99(1):81–129. [PubMed]
  • NAKAI J, KAWASAKI Y. Studies on the mechanism determining the course of nerve fibers in tissue culture. I. The reaction of the growth cone to various obstructions. Z Zellforsch Mikrosk Anat. 1959;51:108–122. [PubMed]
  • Nathaniel EJ, Nathaniel DR. The ultrastructural features of the synapses in the posterior horn of the spinal cord in the rat. J Ultrastruct Res. 1966 Mar;14(5):540–555. [PubMed]
  • Peters A, Vaughn JE. Microtubules and filaments in the axons and astrocytes of early postnatal rat optic nerves. J Cell Biol. 1967 Jan;32(1):113–119. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • ROTH TF, PORTER KR. YOLK PROTEIN UPTAKE IN THE OOCYTE OF THE MOSQUITO AEDES AEGYPTI. L. J Cell Biol. 1964 Feb;20:313–332. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Scott BS, Engelbert VE, Fisher KC. Morphological and electrophysiological characteristics of dissociated chick embryonic spinal ganglion cells in culture. Exp Neurol. 1969 Feb;23(2):230–248. [PubMed]
  • Spooner BS. The expression of differentiation by chick embryo thyroid in cell culture. I. Functional and fine structural stability in mass and clonal culture. J Cell Physiol. 1970 Feb;75(1):33–47. [PubMed]
  • Spooner BS, Wessells NK. Effects of cytochalasin B upon microfilaments involved in morphogenesis of salivary epithelium. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1970 Jun;66(2):360–361. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Szollosi D. Cortical cytoplasmic filaments of cleaving eggs: a structural element corresponding to the contractile ring. J Cell Biol. 1970 Jan;44(1):192–209. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Tani E, Ametani T. Substructure of microtubules in brain nerve cells as revealed by ruthenium red. J Cell Biol. 1970 Jul;46(1):159–165. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Taylor AC. Microtubules in the microspikes and cortical cytoplasm of isolated cells. J Cell Biol. 1966 Feb;28(2):155–168. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Tennyson VM. The fine structure of the axon and growth cone of the dorsal root neuroblast of the rabbit embryo. J Cell Biol. 1970 Jan;44(1):62–79. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • VENABLE JH, COGGESHALL R. A SIMPLIFIED LEAD CITRATE STAIN FOR USE IN ELECTRON MICROSCOPY. J Cell Biol. 1965 May;25:407–408. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Wessells NK, Spooner BS, Ash JF, Bradley MO, Luduena MA, Taylor EL, Wrenn JT, Yamada K. Microfilaments in cellular and developmental processes. Science. 1971 Jan 15;171(3967):135–143. [PubMed]
  • Wisniewski H, Shelanski ML, Terry RD. Effects of mitotic spindle inhibitors on neurotubules and neurofilaments in anterior horn cells. J Cell Biol. 1968 Jul;38(1):224–229. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Wrenn JT, Wessells NK. An ultrastructural study of lens invagination in the mouse. J Exp Zool. 1969 Jul;171(3):359–367. [PubMed]
  • Wrenn JT, Wessells NK. Cytochalasin B: effects upon microfilaments involved in morphogenesis of estrogen-induced glands of oviduct. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1970 Jul;66(3):904–908. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from The Journal of Cell Biology are provided here courtesy of The Rockefeller University Press

Formats:

Related citations in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Cited by other articles in PMC

See all...

Links

  • Cited in Books
    Cited in Books
    PubMed Central articles cited in books
  • Compound
    Compound
    PubChem Compound links
  • PubMed
    PubMed
    PubMed citations for these articles
  • Substance
    Substance
    PubChem Substance links

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...