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Neuron. 2011 Oct 6;72(1):22-40. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.09.018.

Transcriptional regulation of neuronal polarity and morphogenesis in the mammalian brain.

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Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The highly specialized morphology of a neuron, typically consisting of a long axon and multiple branching dendrites, lies at the core of the principle of dynamic polarization, whereby information flows from dendrites toward the soma and to the axon. For more than a century, neuroscientists have been fascinated by how shape is important for neuronal function and how neurons acquire their characteristic morphology. During the past decade, substantial progress has been made in our understanding of the molecular underpinnings of neuronal polarity and morphogenesis. In these studies, transcription factors have emerged as key players governing multiple aspects of neuronal morphogenesis from neuronal polarization and migration to axon growth and pathfinding to dendrite growth and branching to synaptogenesis. In this review, we will highlight the role of transcription factors in shaping neuronal morphology with emphasis on recent literature in mammalian systems.

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