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Prog Neurobiol. 2001 Dec;65(6):593-608.

Cell signalling cascades regulating neuronal growth-promoting and inhibitory cues.

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Neurology Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, New Frontiers Science Park, Third Avenue, Essex CM19 5AW, Harlow, UK.


During development of the nervous system, neurons extend axons over considerable distances in a highly stereospecific fashion in order to innervate their targets in an appropriate manner. This involves the recognition, by the axonal growth cone, of guidance cues that determine the pathway taken by the axons. These guidance cues can act to promote and/or repel growth cone advance, and they can act either locally or at a distance from their place of synthesis. The directed growth of axons is partly governed by cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) on the neuronal growth cone that bind to CAMs on the surface of other axons or non-neuronal cells. In vitro assays have established the importance of the CAMs (N-CAM, N-cadherin and the L1 glycoprotein) in promoting axonal growth over cells, such as Schwann cells, astrocytes and muscle cells. Strong evidence now exists implicating the fibroblast growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase as the primary signal transduction molecule in the CAM pathway. Cell adhesion molecules are important constituents of synapses, and CAMs appear to play important and diverse roles in regulating synaptic plasticity associated with learning and memory. Negative extracellular signals which physically direct neurite growth have also been described. The latter include the neuronal growth inhibitory proteins Nogo and myelin-associated glycoprotein, as well as the growth cone collapsing Semaphorins/neuropilins. Although less well characterised, evidence is now beginning to emerge describing a role for Rho kinase-mediated signalling in inhibition of neurite outgrowth. This review focuses on some of the major themes and ideas associated with this fast-moving field of neuroscience.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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