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Physiol Rev. 2015 Jul;95(3):995-1024. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00025.2014.

Extracellular and Intracellular Signaling for Neuronal Polarity.

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Department of Cell Pharmacology, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan.


Neurons are one of the highly polarized cells in the body. One of the fundamental issues in neuroscience is how neurons establish their polarity; therefore, this issue fascinates many scientists. Cultured neurons are useful tools for analyzing the mechanisms of neuronal polarization, and indeed, most of the molecules important in their polarization were identified using culture systems. However, we now know that the process of neuronal polarization in vivo differs in some respects from that in cultured neurons. One of the major differences is their surrounding microenvironment; neurons in vivo can be influenced by extrinsic factors from the microenvironment. Therefore, a major question remains: How are neurons polarized in vivo? Here, we begin by reviewing the process of neuronal polarization in culture conditions and in vivo. We also survey the molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal polarization. Finally, we introduce the theoretical basis of neuronal polarization and the possible involvement of neuronal polarity in disease and traumatic brain injury.

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