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Bioessays. 2005 May;27(5):495-505.

STOP and GO with NO: nitric oxide as a regulator of cell motility in simple brains.

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School of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Cell Biology, Institute of Physiology Bischofsholer Damm 15, D-30173 Hannover, Germany.


During the formation of the brain, neuronal cell migration and neurite extension are controlled by extracellular guidance cues. Here, I discuss experiments showing that the messenger nitric oxide (NO) is an additional regulator of cell motility. NO is a membrane permeant molecule, which activates soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) and leads to the formation of cyclic GMP (cGMP) in target cells. The analysis of specific cells types in invertebrate models such as molluscs, insects and the medicinal leech provides insight how NO and cyclic nucleotides affect the wiring of nervous systems by regulating cell and growth-cone motility. Inhibition of the NOS and sGC enzymes combined with rescue experiments show that NO signalling orchestrates neurite outgrowth and filopodial dynamics, cell migration of enteric neurons, glial migration and axonogenesis of pioneer fibers. Cultured insect embryos are accessible model systems in which cellular mechanisms of NO-induced cytoskeletal reorganizations can be analyzed in natural settings. Finally, I will outline some indications that NO may also regulate cell motility in the developing and regenerating vertebrate nervous system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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