Filopodial calcium transients regulate growth cone motility and guidance through local activation of calpain

Neuron. 2003 May 22;38(4):597-609. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00260-5.


Spontaneous intracellular calcium ([Ca2+](i)) transients in growth cone filopodia reduce filopodial motility, slow neurite outgrowth, and promote turning when generated asymmetrically; however, the downstream effectors of these Ca2+ -dependent behaviors are unknown. We report that Ca2+ transients in filopodia activate the intracellular protease calpain, which slows neurite outgrowth and promotes repulsive growth cone turning upon local activation. Active calpain alters the balance between tyrosine kinase and phosphatase activities in filopodia, resulting in a net decrease in tyrosine phosphorylation, which mediates both filopodial stabilization and reduced lamellipodial protrusion. Our findings indicate that locally generated Ca2+ signals repel axon outgrowth through calpain-dependent regulation of phosphotyrosine signaling at integrin-mediated adhesion sites.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Calpain / metabolism*
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Growth Cones / enzymology*
  • Neurons / enzymology
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Phosphorylation
  • Phosphotyrosine / metabolism
  • Pseudopodia / enzymology*
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Tyrosine / metabolism
  • Xenopus
  • src-Family Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • src-Family Kinases / metabolism


  • Phosphotyrosine
  • Tyrosine
  • src-Family Kinases
  • Calpain
  • Calcium