Unique responses of differentiating neuronal growth cones to inhibitory cues presented by oligodendrocytes

A. Shibata, M. V. Wright, S. David, L. McKerracher, P. E. Braun, S. B. Kater

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26 Scopus citations


During central nervous system development, neurons differentiate distinct axonal and dendritic processes whose outgrowth is influenced by environmental cues. Given the known intrinsic differences between axons and dendrites and that little is known about the response of dendrites to inhibitory cues, we tested the hypothesis that outgrowth of differentiating axons and dendrites of hippocampal neurons is differentially influenced by inhibitory environmental cues. A sensitive growth cone behavior assay was used to assess responses of differentiating axonal and dendritic growth cones to oligodendrocytes and oligodendrocyte-derived, myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG). We report that >90% of axonal growth cones collapsed after contact with oligodendrocytes. None of the encounters between differentiating, MAP-2 positive dendritic growth cones and oligodendrocytes resulted in growth cone collapse. The insensitivity of differentiating dendritic growth cones appears to be acquired since they develop from minor processes whose growth cones are inhibited (nearly 70% collapse) by contact with oligodendrocytes. Recombinant MAG(rMAG)-coated beads caused Collapse of 72% of axonal growth cones but only 29% of differentiating dendritic growth cones. Unlike their response to contact with oligodendrocytes, few growth cones of minor processes were inhibited by rMAG-coated beads (20% collapsed). These results reveal the capability of differentiating growth cones of the same neuron to partition the complex molecular terrain they navigate by generating unique responses to particular inhibitory environmental cues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-202
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 13 1998
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cell Biology


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