• extracellular matrix;
  • neurite guidance;
  • spiral ganglion;
  • pattern assay


Extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules have been shown to function as cues for neurite guidance in various populations of neurons. Here we show that laminin (LN) and fibronectin (FN) presented in stripe micro-patterns can provide guidance cues to neonatal (P5) inner ear spiral ganglion (SG) neurites. The response to both ECM molecules was dose-dependent. In a LN versus poly-L-lysine (PLL) assay, neurites were more often observed on PLL at low coating concentrations (5 and 10 μg/mL), while they were more often on LN at a high concentration (80 μg/mL). In a FN versus PLL assay, neurites were more often on PLL than on FN stripes at high coating concentrations (40 and 80 μg/mL). In a direct competition between LN and FN, neurites were observed on LN significantly more often than on FN at both 10 and 40 μg/mL. The data suggest a preference by SG neurites for LN at high concentrations, as well as avoidance of both LN at low and FN at high concentrations. The results also support a potential model for neurite guidance in the developing inner ear in vivo. LN, in the SG and osseus spiral lamina may promote SG dendrite growth toward the organ of Corti. Within the organ of Corti, lower concentrations of LN may slow neurite growth, with FN beneath each row of hair cells providing a stop or avoidance signal. This could allow growth cone filopodia increased time to sample their cellular targets, or direct the fibers upward toward the hair cells. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Develop Neurobiol, 2007