Neurobiology of Spinal Cord Injury

Part of the series Contemporary Neuroscience pp 131-153

Transduction of Inhibitory Signals by the Axonal Growth Cone

  • Li-Hsien Wang
  • , Alyson Fournier
  • , Fumio Nakamura
  • , Takuya Takahashi
  • , Robert G. Kalb
  • , Stephen M. Strittmatter

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The distal tip of the growing axons is a specialized structure termed the growth cone, consisting of a lamelipodium with numerous filopodial extensions (1,2) (Fig. 1). The growth cone is largely responsible for determining the direction as well as the extent of axon outgrowth. Obviously, axonal growth cone function is critical for neuronal development and hence the proper functioning of the adult nervous system. The same mechanisms are thought to determine whether adult axons regenerate (as in peripheral nerve injury) or fail to regenerate (as in spinal cord injury). When regeneration does occur, adult axons are thought to utilize the same guidance cues that developing axons use to identify appropriate synaptic partners among a myriad of possibilities. In this review, the molecular cues known to inhibit axonal outgrowth are briefly reviewed and the mechanisms of their action on growth cones considered in detail.