Molecular Biology of the Nerve Growth Cone: A Perspective

  • Karl H. Pfenninger
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 181)


As so vividly described by Cajal, the nerve growth cone is the amoeboid, leading edge of the growing neurite. It occurs only during a narrow segment of the neuron’s life, during the time between terminal mitosis and synaptogenesis and, possibly in somewhat different form, during regeneration. As the growing, advancing tip, the nerve growth cone plays a crucial role in nervous system development. It is critical for the establishment of the neuron’s unusual geometry and high degree of polarity because it appears to be the main site of insertion of new plasmalemma1 components for surface expansion (Pfenninger and Maylié-Pfenninger, 1981b; Pfenninger and Johnson, 1983). Furthermore, the growth cone is the structure responsible for vectorial growth into the appropriate target area because it is capable of locomotion, pathfinding and Chemotaxis (see below). Last but not least, it is the structure which recognizes the target cell and triggers synaptogenesis.


Nerve Growth Factor Neuritic Growth Growth Cone Synaptic Terminal Nerve Growth Factor Receptor 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl H. Pfenninger
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of Anatomy & Cell BiologyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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