The Role of The Neural Growth Associated Protein B-50/Gap-43 in Morphogenesis

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Axonal guidance during development and regeneration can largely be attributed to a specialized structure at the distal end of a neurite called the growth cone (Ramon y Cajal, 1966). Structurally, these highly dynamic swellings can be divided into three distinct regions: a base, a central region and a peripheral region. The base is formed by the transition from growth cone to neurite, where bundles of microtubules diverge and extend into the central region. This region consists of a microtubular skeleton and is rich in membranous organelles such as mitochondria, dense and clear cored vesicles and endoplasmic reticu-lum like structures. The flattened leading edge of the growth cone, the peripheral region, is filled with a dense meshwork of actin filaments and is virtually devoid of microtubules and organelles. Growth cone and neurite architecture and motility are supported by a complex network of cell adhesion molecules, microtubules, actin, intermediate filaments and specific interacting regulatory proteins.