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Hardwiring the Brain: Endocannabinoids Shape Neuronal Connectivity

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Science  25 May 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5828, pp. 1212-1216
DOI: 10.1126/science.1137406

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Abstract

The roles of endocannabinoid signaling during central nervous system development are unknown. We report that CB1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1Rs) are enriched in the axonal growth cones of γ-aminobutyric acid–containing (GABAergic) interneurons in the rodent cortex during late gestation. Endocannabinoids trigger CB1R internalization and elimination from filopodia and induce chemorepulsion and collapse of axonal growth cones of these GABAergic interneurons by activating RhoA. Similarly, endocannabinoids diminish the galvanotropism of Xenopus laevis spinal neurons. These findings, together with the impaired target selection of cortical GABAergic interneurons lacking CB1Rs, identify endocannabinoids as axon guidance cues and demonstrate that endocannabinoid signaling regulates synaptogenesis and target selection in vivo.

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