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J Neurobiol. 2004 Jan;58(1):84-91.

How actin filaments and microtubules steer growth cones to their targets.

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Neuroscience Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 8129 Neuroscience Research Building, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.


Guidance molecules steer growth cones to their targets by attracting or repelling them. Turning in a new direction requires remodeling of the growth cone and bending of the axon. This depends upon reorganization of actin filaments and microtubules, which are the primary cytoskeletal components of growth cones. This article discusses how these cytoskeletal components induce turning. The importance of each component as well as how interactions between them result in axon guidance is discussed. Current evidence shows that microtubules are influenced by both the organization and dynamics of actin filaments in the peripheral domain of growth cones. Cytoskeletal models for repulsive and attractive turning are presented. Molecular candidates that may link actin filaments with microtubules are suggested and potential signal transduction pathways that allow these cytoskeletal components to affect each other are discussed.

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