The axon initial segment and the maintenance of neuronal polarity

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2010 Aug;11(8):552-62. doi: 10.1038/nrn2852. Epub 2010 Jul 14.


Ion channel clustering at the axon initial segment (AIS) and nodes of Ranvier has been suggested to be a key evolutionary innovation that enabled the development of the complex vertebrate nervous system. This innovation epitomizes a signature feature of neurons, namely polarity. The mechanisms that establish neuronal polarity, channel clustering and axon-dendrite identity during development are becoming clearer. However, much less is known about how polarity is maintained throughout life. Here, I review the role of the AIS in the development and maintenance of neuronal polarity and discuss how disrupted polarity may be a common component of many diseases and injuries that affect the nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / chemistry
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cell Polarity / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*