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Bioarchitecture. 2013 Jul-Aug;3(4):86-109.

The cytoskeleton and neurite initiation.


Neurons begin their life as simple spheres, but can ultimately assume an elaborate morphology with numerous, highly arborized dendrites, and long axons. This is achieved via an astounding developmental progression which is dependent upon regulated assembly and dynamics of the cellular cytoskeleton. As neurites emerge out of the soma, neurons break their spherical symmetry and begin to acquire the morphological features that define their structure and function. Neurons regulate their cytoskeleton to achieve changes in cell shape, velocity, and direction as they migrate, extend neurites, and polarize. Of particular importance, the organization and dynamics of actin and microtubules directs the migration and morphogenesis of neurons. This review focuses on the regulation of intrinsic properties of the actin and microtubule cytoskeletons and how specific cytoskeletal structures and dynamics are associated with the earliest phase of neuronal morphogenesis—neuritogenesis.

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