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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2002 Sep;3(9):694-704.

Breaking the neuronal sphere: regulation of the actin cytoskeleton in neuritogenesis.

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Cavalieri Ottolenghi Scientific Institute, Universita Degli Studi di Torino, A.O. San Luigi Gonzaga, Regione Gonzole 10, 10024 Orbassano, Torino, Italy.


The sprouting of neurites, which will later become axons and dendrites, is an important event in early neuronal differentiation. Studies in living neurons indicate that neuritogenesis begins immediately after neuronal commitment, with the activation of membrane receptors by extracellular cues. These receptors activate intracellular cascades that trigger changes in the actin cytoskeleton, which promote the initial breakdown of symmetry. Then, through the regulation of gene transcription, and of microtubule and membrane dynamics, the newly formed neurite becomes stabilized. A key challenge is to define the molecular machinery that regulates the actin cytoskeleton during initial neurite sprouting. We propose that analysing the molecules involved in actin-dependent mechanisms in non-neuronal systems, such as budding yeast and migrating fibroblasts, could help to uncover the secrets of neuritogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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