Cytoskeletal remodeling during growth cone-target interactions

Chi Hung Lin, Paul Forscher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

209 Scopus citations


Reorganization of the cytoskeleton of neuronal growth cones in response to environmental cues underlies the process of axonal guidance. Most previous studies addressing cytoskeletal changes during growth cone pathfinding have focused on the dynamics of a single cytoskeletal component. We report here an investigation of homophilic growth cone-target interactions between Aplysia bag cell neurons using digitally enhanced video microscopy, which addresses dynamic interactions between actin filaments and microtubules. After physical contact of a growth cone with a physiological target, mechanical coupling occurred after a delay; and then the growth cone exerted forces on and displaced the target object. Subsequent to coupling, F-actin accumulation was observed at the target contact zone, followed by preferential microtubule extension to the same site. After successful target interactions, growth cones typically moved off highly adhesive poly-L-lysine substrates onto native target cell surfaces. These events were associated with modulation of both the direction and rate of neurite out-growth: growth cone migration was typically reoriented to a trajectory along the target interaction axis and rates of advance increased by about one order of magnitude. Directed microtubule movements toward the contact site appeared to be F-actin dependent as target site-specific microtubule extension and bundling could be reversibly randomized by micromolar levels of cytochalasin B in a characteristic manner. Our results suggest that target contacts can induce focal F-actin assembly and reorganization which, in turn, guides target site-directed microtubule redistribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1369-1383
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1993

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