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Dev Growth Differ. 2015 May;57(4):291-304. doi: 10.1111/dgd.12218. Epub 2015 May 13.

Exocytic and endocytic membrane trafficking in axon development.

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Laboratory for Neuronal Growth Mechanisms, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama, 351-0198, Japan.


In the complex neuronal circuits in the nervous systems, billions of neurons are precisely interconnected by long, thin processes called the axons. The growth cone, a highly motile structure at the tip of an extending axon, navigates by responding to a variety of extracellular molecular cues toward their distant target cells and make synaptic connections. Emerging evidence indicates that exocytic and endocytic membrane trafficking systems play multiple important roles in the regulation of such axonal morphogenetic processes. Exocytosis and endocytosis organize the subcellular distribution of membrane-associated molecules, such as receptors, cell adhesion molecules, and cytoskeletal regulators, to control intracellular signaling and driving machineries. Furthermore, the exocytosis of trophic factors and extracellular proteinases act on surrounding microenvironments to affect growth cone motility. In this Review Article, we summarize our current understanding of the regulation and function of exocytic and endocytic membrane trafficking in axon morphogenesis during development, and discuss potential mechanisms of how the membrane trafficking systems exert such morphological changes.


axon guidance; axon outgrowth; endocytosis; exocytosis; membrane trafficking

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