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Nature. 2000 Jan 6;403(6765):89-93.

Turning of nerve growth cones induced by localized increases in intracellular calcium ions.

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Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway 08854, USA.


Guidance of developing axons involves turning of the motile tip, the growth cone, in response to a variety of extracellular cues. Little is known about the intracellular mechanism by which the directional signal is transduced. Ca2+ is a key second messenger in growth cone extension and has been implicated in growth-cone turning. Here I report that a direct, spatially restricted elevation of intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) on one side of the growth cone by focal laser-induced photolysis (FLIP) of caged Ca2+ consistently induced turning of the growth cone to the side with elevated [Ca2+]i (attraction). Furthermore, when the resting [Ca2+]i at the growth cone was decreased by the removal of extracellular Ca2+, the same focal elevation of [Ca2+]i by FLIP induced repulsion. These results provide direct evidence that a localized Ca2+ signal in the growth cone can provide the intracellular directional cue for extension and is sufficient to initiate both attraction and repulsion. By integrating local and global Ca2+ signals, a growth cone could thus generate different turning responses under different environmental conditions during guidance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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