Send to

Choose Destination
Development. 2019 Apr 4;146(7). pii: dev171397. doi: 10.1242/dev.171397.

Transient localization of the Arp2/3 complex initiates neuronal dendrite branching in vivo.

Author information

Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V./German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), 53127 Bonn, Germany.
MPI for Neurobiology, 82152 Munich- Martinsried, Germany.
Institute of Molecular biotechnology (IMBA), 1030 Wien, Austria.
Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neuroscience in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, 60528 Frankfurt, Germany.
Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, 60438 Frankfurt, Germany.
Institut für Physiologie und Pathophysiologie, Abteilung Molekulare Zellphysiologie, Phillips-Universität Marburg, 35037 Marburg, Germany.
Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V./German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), 53127 Bonn, Germany


The formation of neuronal dendrite branches is fundamental for the wiring and function of the nervous system. Indeed, dendrite branching enhances the coverage of the neuron's receptive field and modulates the initial processing of incoming stimuli. Complex dendrite patterns are achieved in vivo through a dynamic process of de novo branch formation, branch extension and retraction. The first step towards branch formation is the generation of a dynamic filopodium-like branchlet. The mechanisms underlying the initiation of dendrite branchlets are therefore crucial to the shaping of dendrites. Through in vivo time-lapse imaging of the subcellular localization of actin during the process of branching of Drosophila larva sensory neurons, combined with genetic analysis and electron tomography, we have identified the Actin-related protein (Arp) 2/3 complex as the major actin nucleator involved in the initiation of dendrite branchlet formation, under the control of the activator WAVE and of the small GTPase Rac1. Transient recruitment of an Arp2/3 component marks the site of branchlet initiation in vivo These data position the activation of Arp2/3 as an early hub for the initiation of branchlet formation.


Actin; Arp2/3; Dendrite; Neuron; Time-lapse imaging; WAVE

Free full text

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare no competing or financial interests.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center