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Actin Reorganization in Nerve Morphogenesis

  1. Ajeet Pratap Singh1,
  2. Veronica Rodrigues1,
  3. K VijayRaghavan2

Published Online: 15 MAR 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0021850



How to Cite

Singh, A. P., Rodrigues, V. and VijayRaghavan, K. 2010. Actin Reorganization in Nerve Morphogenesis. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    TIFR, DBS, Homi Bhabha Road, Mumbai, India

  2. 2

    TIFR, National Centre for Biological Sciences, GKVK Campus, Bangalore, India

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2010

This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (14 AUG 2015)


Anatomists over centuries have described nerve cells which are notable for their diversity of architectures ranging from rather simple cells to highly complex and beautiful shapes. The soma of most neurons have two types of projections – dendrites which receive inputs from the environment or other nerve cells, which specialize in information transfer. The correct shape of a neuron and its connectivity which forms the basis of a functional circuit is crucial for the normal physiology of an animal. Defects in neuronal morphogenesis have been shown to be the cause of several neurological diseases. In this article we focus on a key molecule – actin, a component of the cytoskeleton – that forms the basis of cell shape and growth. We discuss how signals from within the cells and from its developmental milieu influence the organization of actin which in turn impacts on the shape and function of a nerve cell.

Key Concepts

  • Actin is enriched in areas of neurons which undergo rapid changes in shape.

  • Actin dynamics is regulated by multiple upstream signals and intracellular effectors.

  • Local destabilization of the actin cytoskeleton is a key downstream event during selection of an axon.

  • Actin dynamics in the growth cone regulates filopodial extension/retraction.

  • Actin cytoskeleton is highly dynamic in dendritic spines.

  • Neuronal activity-dependent spine enlargement is correlated with a shift in F-/G-actin equilibrium towards F-actin.

  • Rho GTPases are major intracellular regulators of actin dynamics.


  • actin;
  • neuron;
  • cytoskeleton;
  • neuronal polarity;
  • axon-growth;
  • dendritic-patterning