Regulatory roles of microtubule-associated proteins in neuronal morphogenesis. Involvement of the extracellular matrix

Braz J Med Biol Res. 1999 May;32(5):611-8. doi: 10.1590/s0100-879x1999000500015.


As a result of recent investigations, the cytoskeleton can be viewed as a cytoplasmic system of interconnected filaments with three major integrative levels: self-assembling macromolecules, filamentous polymers, e.g., microtubules, intermediate filaments and actin filaments, and supramolecular structures formed by bundles of these filaments or networks resulting from cross-bridges between these major cytoskeletal polymers. The organization of this biological structure appears to be sensitive to fine spatially and temporally dependent regulatory signals. In differentiating neurons, regulation of cytoskeleton organization is particularly relevant, and the microtubule-associated protein (MAP) tau appears to play roles in the extension of large neuritic processes and axons as well as in the stabilization of microtubular polymers along these processes. Within this context, tau is directly involved in defining neuronal polarity as well as in the generation of neuronal growth cones. There is increasing evidence that elements of the extracellular matrix contribute to the control of cytoskeleton organization in differentiating neurons, and that these regulations could be mediated by changes in MAP activity. In this brief review, we discuss the possible roles of tau in mediating the effects of extracellular matrix components on the internal cytoskeletal arrays and its organization in growing neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / physiology*
  • Morphogenesis
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Neuroglia
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • tau Proteins / physiology*


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • tau Proteins