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Trends Cell Biol. 2009 Dec;19(12):669-76. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2009.08.006. Epub 2009 Oct 2.

Control of neuronal polarity and plasticity--a renaissance for microtubules?

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Department of Neuroscience, Erasmus Medical Center, 3015GE, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Microtubules have been regarded as essential structures for stable neuronal morphology but new studies are highlighting their role in dynamic neuronal processes. Recent work demonstrates that the microtubule cytoskeleton has an active role during different phases of neuronal polarization - microtubules and their stability determine axon formation, they maintain the identity of axons and they regulate the dynamics of dendritic spines, the major sites of excitatory synaptic input. Although microtubules fulfill distinct cellular functions at different developmental stages, the underlying molecular mechanisms are remarkably similar. Reccurring themes are that microtubules direct specific membrane traffic and affect actin dynamics to locally organize axon growth and spine dynamics. We review the novel role of microtubules during neuronal development and discuss models for microtubule-dependent signaling in neuronal plasticity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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