Cranking It Up a Notch

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Science  22 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5440, pp. 689-690
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5440.689

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Neurons in the cerebral cortex grow by extending neurites (axons and dendrites) and making connections with their neighbors. It now transpires, as Chenn and Walsh discuss in their Perspective, that the Notch receptor and its ligands control the process of neurite extension ( estan et al.). When neurons are bunched close together and their neurites are touching each other, the Notch receptor is activated and neurites retract. But if neurons are spaced too widely apart, the Notch receptor is not activated and neurites continue to grow and extend until they connect with the neurites of their neighbors.