Rho-dependent contractile responses in the neuronal growth cone are independent of classical peripheral retrograde actin flow

Neuron. 2003 Dec 4;40(5):931-44. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00754-2.


Rho family GTPases have been implicated in neuronal growth cone guidance; however, the underlying cytoskeletal mechanisms are unclear. We have used multimode fluorescent speckle microscopy (FSM) to directly address this problem. We report that actin arcs that form in the transition zone are incorporated into central actin bundles in the C domain. These actin structures are Rho/Rho Kinase (ROCK) effectors. Specifically, LPA mediates growth cone retraction by ROCK-dependent increases in actin arc and central actin bundle contractility and stability. In addition, these treatments had marked effects on MT organization as a consequence of strong MT-actin arc interactions. In contrast, LPA or constitutively active Rho had no effect on P domain retrograde actin flow or filopodium bundle number. This study reveals a novel mechanism for domain-specific spatial control of actin-based motility in the growth cone with implications for understanding chemorepellant growth cone responses and nerve regeneration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Aplysia
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Growth Cones / physiology*
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*


  • Actins
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins