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J Neurobiol. 2000 Aug;44(2):260-70.

Growth cone form, behavior, and interactions in vivo: retinal axon pathfinding as a model.

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Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, and the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, 630 W. 168th Street, New York, New York 10032, USA.

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  • J Neurobiol 2000 Nov 5;45(2):134.


Studies in vitro have revealed a great deal about growth cone behaviors, especially responses to guidance molecules, both positive and negative, and the signaling systems mediating these responses. Little, however, is known about these events as they take place in vivo. With new imaging methods, growth cone behaviors can be chronicled in the complex settings of intact or semi-intact systems. With the retinal projection through the optic chiasm as a model, we examined the hypothesis previously drawn from static material that growth cone form is position-specific: growth cone form in fact reflects specific behaviors, including rate and tempo of extension, that are more or less prominent in different locales in which growth cones are situated. Other studies show that growth cones interact with cells along the pathway, both specialized nonneuronal cells and other neurons, some expressing known guidance molecules. The present challenge is to bridge dynamic imaging with electron microscopy and molecular localization, in order to link growth cone behaviors with cell and molecular interactions in the natural setting in which growth cones extend.

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