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Brain Res. 2007 Oct 24;1176:1-10. Epub 2007 Aug 22.

Attenuation of actinomyosinII contractile activity in growth cones accelerates filopodia-guided and microtubule-based neurite elongation.

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Institute of Zoology, Cell- and Developmental Neuro-Biology, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.


The myosinII-specific inhibitor blebbistatin was used to attenuate actinomyosinII contractility in E7-chicken retina explant, medulla and spinal cord neuronal cell cultures. Addition of 20-100 microM blebbistatin, a concentration range that reversibly disrupts actin stress fibers, led to a reduction of growth cone lamellipodial areas and to an elongation of filopodia within 5 to 10 min. These morphological changes were completely reversed after removing the inhibitor. In the continued presence of blebbistatin for several hours, a dose-dependent acceleration (up to 6-fold) of neurite outgrowth was observed. The rapidly elongating neuritic processes displayed narrowed growth cones with one to three long filopodia at the leading edge. At the same time, thin neuritic branches emerged in a "push"-like fashion guided by filopodial extensions. Immunocytochemical characterization of these thin sprouts revealed that they contained actin filaments, myosinIIA, phosphorylated neurofilament/tau epitopes, MAP2, NCAM-PSA, and microtubules, demonstrating that these processes presented neurites and not filopodia. The crucial involvement of microtubules in blebbistatin-induced accelerated neurite extension was confirmed by its inhibition in the presence of nocodazole or taxol. The promotion by blebbistatin of neurite outgrowth occurred on polylysine, laminin, as well as on fibronectin as substrate. The presence of the Rho/ROCK-inhibitor Y-27632 also caused a dose-dependent promotion of neurite growth which was, however, 3-fold less pronounced as compared to blebbistatin. In contrast to blebbistatin, Y-27632 led to the enlargement of growth cone lamellipodial extensions. Our data demonstrate that neurite outgrowth and branching are inversely correlated with the degree of actinomyosinII contractility which determines the speed of retrograde flow and turnover of actin filaments and, by this, microtubule extension.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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