Dendrite morphogenesis depends on relative levels of NT-3/TrkC signaling

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Science  31 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6209, pp. 626-629
DOI: 10.1126/science.1258996

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Making dendritic arbors during development

Developing axons are known to compete for limiting, target-derived neurotrophins for survival and growth in the peripheral nervous system. Joo et al. suggest that an additional, reciprocal model is involved in the development of dendritic arbors of cerebellar Purkinje cells. Working in mice, the authors show that growing dendrites of Purkinje neurons require presynaptic partner-derived neurotrophins during competitive dendritic growth in the central nervous system.

Science, this issue p. 626


Neurotrophins regulate diverse aspects of neuronal development and plasticity, but their precise in vivo functions during neural circuit assembly in the central brain remain unclear. We show that the neurotrophin receptor tropomyosin-related kinase C (TrkC) is required for dendritic growth and branching of mouse cerebellar Purkinje cells. Sparse TrkC knockout reduced dendrite complexity, but global Purkinje cell knockout had no effect. Removal of the TrkC ligand neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) from cerebellar granule cells, which provide major afferent input to developing Purkinje cell dendrites, rescued the dendrite defects caused by sparse TrkC disruption in Purkinje cells. Our data demonstrate that NT-3 from presynaptic neurons (granule cells) is required for TrkC-dependent competitive dendrite morphogenesis in postsynaptic neurons (Purkinje cells)—a previously unknown mechanism of neural circuit development.

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