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Cell Motil Cytoskeleton. 1991;20(1):7-29.

Roles of actin filaments and three second-messenger systems in short-term regulation of chick dorsal root ganglion neurite outgrowth.

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Department of Cell Biology and Neuroanatomy, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.


In a previous study (J. Cell Biol. 109: 1229-1243, 1989), we reported that conditions which increased growth cone calcium levels and induced neurite retraction in cultured chick DRG neurons also resulted in an apparent loss of actin filaments in the growth cone periphery. We further showed that the actin-stabilizing drug phalloidin could block or reverse calcium-ionophore-induced neurite retraction, indicating that the behavioral changes were mediated, at least in part, by changes in actin filament stability. In this study, we have further characterized the calcium sensitivity of growth cone behavior to identify which features of calcium-induced behavioral effects can be attributed to effects on actin filaments alone, and to assess whether two other second-messenger systems, cAMP and protein kinase C, might influence neurite outgrowth by altering calcium levels or actin stability. The results indicated that growth cone behavior was highly sensitive to small changes in calcium concentrations. Neurite outgrowth was only observed in calcium-permeabilized cells when extracellular calcium concentrations were between 200 and 300 nM, and changes as small as 50 nM commonly produced detectable changes in behavior. Furthermore, low doses of cytochalasins mimicked all of the grossly observable features of growth cone responses to elevation of intracellular calcium, including the apparent preferential destruction of lamellipodial actin filaments and sparing of filopodial actin, suggesting that the behavioral effects of calcium elevation could be explained by loss of actin filaments alone. The effects of cAMP elevation and protein kinase C activation on growth cone behavior, ultrastructure, and fura2-AM-measured calcium levels indicated that the effects of cAMP manipulations could be partially explained by a cAMP-induced lowering of growth cone calcium levels and concomitant increased stabilization of actin filaments, but protein kinase C appeared to act through an independent mechanism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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