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Nat Neurosci. 2003 Nov;6(11):1169-77. Epub 2003 Oct 5.

Beta-catenin is critical for dendritic morphogenesis.

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Nancy Friend Pritzker Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California 94304, USA.


Regulated growth and arborization of dendritic processes are critical to the formation of functional neuronal networks. Here we identify beta-catenin as a critical mediator of dendritic morphogenesis. We found that increasing the intracellular levels of beta-catenin and other members of the cadherin/catenin complex, namely N-cadherin and alphaN-catenin, enhances dendritic arborization in rat hippocampal neurons, an effect that does not require Wnt/beta-catenin-dependent transcription. Conversely, proteins that sequester beta-catenin decreased dendritic branch tip number and total dendritic branch length. Enhancement of dendritic growth elicited by depolarization requires beta-catenin and increased Wnt release. These results identify Wnt/beta-catenin signaling as an important mediator of dendritic development and suggest that the intracellular level of the cadherin/catenin complex is a limiting factor during critical stages of dendritic morphogenesis.

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