Looking beyond development: maintaining nervous system architecture

Curr Top Dev Biol. 2009;87:175-94. doi: 10.1016/S0070-2153(09)01206-X.


Neuronal circuitries established in development must persist throughout life. This poses a serious challenge to the structural integrity of an embryonically patterned nervous system as an animal dramatically increases its size postnatally, remodels parts of its anatomy, and incorporates new neurons. In addition, body movements, injury, and ageing generate physical stress on the nervous system. Specific molecular pathways maintain intrinsic properties of neurons in the mature nervous system. Other factors ensure that the overall organization of entire neuronal ensembles into ganglia and fascicles is appropriately maintained upon external challenges. Here, we discuss different molecules underlying these neuronal maintenance mechanisms, with a focus on lessons learned from the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / genetics
  • Immunoglobulins / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Nervous System / anatomy & histology*
  • Nervous System / embryology
  • Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor / genetics
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor / metabolism


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • DIG-1 protein, C elegans
  • EGL-15 protein, C elegans
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor
  • spon-1 protein, C elegans