Research NewsNeurobiology

Getting a Handle on the Molecules That Guide Axons

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Science  23 Jan 1998:
Vol. 279, Issue 5350, pp. 481-482
DOI: 10.1126/science.279.5350.481

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Evelyn Strauss Neurons send out long projections called axons in order to reach the midline of the embryo, but once there, they continue to grow, searching for their ultimate destiny elsewhere in the nervous system, where they will make specific connections with other cells. This switch is critical because it allows the two sides of the nervous system to talk to each other, but it has mystified scientists. Now, work from several labs is revealing some of the molecular logic that enables axons to change their conduct so abruptly. The new results, which appear in five papers published this month and last in Cell, Neuron, and Science, show that a dynamic interplay of both attractive and repellent signals between the midline and the nerve cells themselves directs the axonal movements.