, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 557-568
Date: 08 Jul 2014

Regulatory mechanisms underlying the differential growth of dendrites and axons

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A typical neuron is comprised of an information input compartment, or the dendrites, and an output compartment, known as the axon. These two compartments are the structural basis for functional neural circuits. However, little is known about how dendritic and axonal growth are differentially regulated. Recent studies have uncovered two distinct types of regulatory mechanisms that differentiate dendritic and axonal growth: dedicated mechanisms and bimodal mechanisms. Dedicated mechanisms regulate either dendritespecific or axon-specific growth; in contrast, bimodal mechanisms direct dendritic and axonal development in opposite manners. Here, we review the dedicated and bimodal regulators identified by recent Drosophila and mammalian studies. The knowledge of these underlying molecular mechanisms not only expands our understanding about how neural circuits are wired, but also provides insights that will aid in the rational design of therapies for neurological diseases.