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Neuron. 2004 Apr 8;42(1):51-62.

Lipid rafts mediate chemotropic guidance of nerve growth cones.

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Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.

Erratum in

  • Neuron. 2004 May 13;42(3):519.


Axon guidance requires signal transduction of extracellular cues through the plasma membrane for directional motility. Here we present evidence that cholesterol- and sphingolipid-enriched membrane microdomains (lipid rafts) mediate specific guidance responses of nerve growth cones. Disruption of lipid rafts by various approaches targeting cholesterol or gangliosides selectively abolished growth cone attraction and repulsion in BDNF and netrin-1 gradients, respectively, without affecting glutamate-induced attraction. Interestingly, local raft disruption on one side of the growth cone in bath BDNF or netrin-1 produced opposite turning responses to that induced by the gradients. Raft manipulation also blocked Semaphorin 3A-induced growth cone repulsion, inhibition, and collapse. Finally, guidance responses appeared to involve raft-dependent activation of p42/p44 MAPK and ligand-induced receptor recruitment to lipid rafts. Together with the observation of asymmetric receptor-raft associations at the growth cone in guidance gradients, our findings indicate that localized signaling through membrane rafts plays a role in mediating guidance actions of extracellular cues on developing axons.

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