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Int J Dev Biol. 2009;53(1):19-27. doi: 10.1387/ijdb.082618ss.

Organelles in developing neurons: essential regulators of neuronal morphogenesis and function.

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Department of Genetics, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tokyo, Japan.


Eukaryotic cells contain multiple intracellular organelles which are structurally and functionally distinct membrane-delimited compartments. Organelles play vital roles in many cellular events in essentially all eukaryotic cells. Although the canonical roles of organelles are well described by classical in vitro studies, little is known about the specific physiological roles of organelles in neurons, which possess extremely polarized cellular structures and have a massive cellular volume compared with most eukaryotic cells. Studies that make use of recently developed genetic and microscopic techniques are currently elucidating the unexpectedly specialized roles of intracellular, membrane-delimited organelles in neuronal morphogenesis and function, and in human disease. Here we review recent advances in understanding the roles of organelles (the ER-Golgi secretory pathway, endosomes and mitochondria) in developing neurons.

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