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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Neuronal migration.

Like other motile cells, neurons migrate in three schematic steps, namely leading edge extension, nuclear translocation or nucleokinesis, and retraction of the trailing process. In addition, neurons are ordered into architectonic patterns at the end of migration. Leading edge extension can proceed at the extremity of the axon, by growth cone formation, or from the dendrites, by formation of dendritic tips. Among both categories of leading edges, variation seems to be related to the rate of extension of the leading process. Leading edge extension is directed by microfilament polymerization following integration of extracellular cues and is regulated by Rho-type small GTPases. In humans, mutations of filamin, an actin-associated protein, result in heterotopic neurons, probably due to defective leading edge extension. The second event in neuron migration is nucleokinesis, a process which is critically dependent on the microtubule network, as shown in many cell types, from slime molds to vertebrates. In humans, mutations in the PAFAH1B1 gene (more commonly called LIS1) or in the doublecortin (DCX) gene result in type 1 lissencephalies that are most probably due to defective nucleokinesis. Both the Lis1 and doublecortin proteins interact with microtubules, and two Lis1-interacting proteins, Nudel and mammalian NudE, are components of the dynein motor complex and of microtubule organizing centers. In mice, mutations of Cdk5 or of its activators p35 and p39 result in a migration phenotype compatible with defective nucleokinesis, although an effect on leading edge formation is also likely. The formation of architectonic patterns at the end of migration requires the integrity of the Reelin signalling pathway. Other known components of the pathway include members of the lipoprotein receptor family, the intracellular adaptor Dab1, and possibly integrin alpha 3 beta 1. Defective Reelin leads to poor lamination and, in humans, to a lissencephaly phenotype different from type 1 lissencephaly. Although the action of Reelin is unknown, it may trigger some recognition-adhesion among target neurons. Finally, pattern formation requires the integrity of the external limiting membrane, defects of which lead to overmigration of neurons in meninges and to human type 2 lissencephaly.[1]


  1. Neuronal migration. Lambert de Rouvroit, C., Goffinet, A.M. Mech. Dev. (2001) [Pubmed]
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