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Mechanisms of developmental neurite pruning


The precise wiring of the nervous system is a combined outcome of progressive and regressive events during development. Axon guidance and synapse formation intertwined with cell death and neurite pruning sculpt the mature circuitry. It is now well recognized that pruning of dendrites and axons as means to refine neuronal networks, is a wide spread phenomena required for the normal development of vertebrate and invertebrate nervous systems. Here we will review the arising principles of cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurite pruning. We will discuss these principles in light of studies in multiple neuronal systems, and speculate on potential explanations for the emergence of neurite pruning as a mechanism to sculpt the nervous system.

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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis


Brain derived neurotrophic factor


Collapsin response mediator proteins


Corticospinal tract


Dendritic arborization


Dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus


Dorsal root ganglia


Ecdysone receptor


GTPase activating protein


GTP exchange factor


Infrapyramidal bundle


Mosaic analysis with a repressible cell marker


Mushroom body






Nerve growth factor


Neuromuscular junction




Retinal ganglion cells


Superior colliculus


Superior cervical ganglion


Transforming growth factor-β


Ubituitin proteasome System


Wallerian degeneration


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We thank M. Maor-Nof and S. Yaniv for critical reading of the manuscript and Z. Schoenmann for assistance with the graphics. Research in our laboratories is currently supported by the Israeli Science Foundaton (ISF) and Minerva foundation (A.Y.) and the European Research Council (erc), Israeli Science Foundation (ISF) and Minerva foundation (O.S). O.S. is an incumbent of the Aser Rothstein Career Development Chair.

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Correspondence to Oren Schuldiner or Avraham Yaron.

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Schuldiner, O., Yaron, A. Mechanisms of developmental neurite pruning. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 72, 101–119 (2015).

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  • Neuronal remodeling
  • Axon pruning
  • Axon degeneration
  • Neurodevelopment