Getting to the Right Place

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Science  06 Mar 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5919, pp. 1267
DOI: 10.1126/science.323.5919.1267c

The six-subunit protein complex known as Elongator is known for its role in the acetylation of histone H3 and its association with actively transcribed regions of the genome. However, how this function fits with observations linking genetic disruption of the scaffold subunit Elp1 in humans to a defective development of autonomic and sensory neurons has been puzzling. Creppe et al. show that Elongator—particularly the acetyltransferase subunit Elp3—participates in the development of neuronal cells. In the brain, the proliferation of precursor cells generates neuronal cells, but these neurons find their place and adopt their shape only after they have finished their last cell division. For the accurate development and integration of cortical projection neurons, the newly born cells must migrate to the cortex and then form extensive networks of connections with other neurons. The authors suggest that the Elongator complex supports neuronal migration and branching by acetylating tubulin, a component of the cytoskeletal network. — PJH

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