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Neuron. 2001 Dec 20;32(6):1013-26.

Chemotropic responses of retinal growth cones mediated by rapid local protein synthesis and degradation.

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Department of Anatomy, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, CB2 3DY, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Growth cones contain mRNAs, translation machinery, and, as we report here, protein degradation machinery. We show that isolated retinal growth cones immediately lose their ability to turn in a chemotropic gradient of netrin-1 or Sema3A when translation is inhibited. Translation inhibition also prevents Sema3A-induced collapse, while LPA-induced collapse is not affected. Inhibition of proteasome function blocks responses to netrin-1 and LPA but does not affect Sema3A responses. We further demonstrate in isolated growth cones that netrin-1 and Sema3A activate translation initiation factors and stimulate a marked rise in protein synthesis within minutes, while netrin-1 and LPA elicit similar rises in ubiquitin-protein conjugates. These results suggest that guidance molecules steer axon growth by triggering rapid local changes in protein levels in growth cones.

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