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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2010 Aug;11(8):552-62. doi: 10.1038/nrn2852. Epub 2010 Jul 14.

The axon initial segment and the maintenance of neuronal polarity.

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Department of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Ion channel clustering at the axon initial segment (AIS) and nodes of Ranvier has been suggested to be a key evolutionary innovation that enabled the development of the complex vertebrate nervous system. This innovation epitomizes a signature feature of neurons, namely polarity. The mechanisms that establish neuronal polarity, channel clustering and axon-dendrite identity during development are becoming clearer. However, much less is known about how polarity is maintained throughout life. Here, I review the role of the AIS in the development and maintenance of neuronal polarity and discuss how disrupted polarity may be a common component of many diseases and injuries that affect the nervous system.

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