Routes to cAMP: shaping neuronal connectivity with distinct adenylate cyclases

Eur J Neurosci. 2014 Jun;39(11):1742-51. doi: 10.1111/ejn.12543. Epub 2014 Mar 15.


cAMP signaling affects a large number of the developmental processes needed for the construction of the CNS, including cell differentiation, axon outgrowth, response to guidance molecules or modulation of synaptic connections. This points to a key role of adenylate cyclases (ACs), the synthetic enzymes of cAMP, for neural development. ACs exist as 10 different isoforms, which are activated by distinct signaling pathways. The implication of specific AC isoforms in neural wiring was only recently demonstrated in mouse mutants, knockout (KO) for different AC isoforms, AC1, AC3, AC5, AC8 and soluble (s)AC/AC10. These studies stressed the importance of three of these isoforms, as sensors of neural activity that could modify the survival of neurons (sAC), axon outgrowth (sAC), or the response of axons to guidance molecules such as ephrins (AC1) or semaphorins (AC3). We summarize here the current knowledge on the role of these ACs for the development of sensory maps, in the somatosensory, visual and olfactory systems, which have been the most extensively studied. In these systems, AC1/AC3 KO revealed targeting mistakes due to the defective pruning and lack of discrimination of incoming axons to signals present in target structures. In contrast, no changes in cell differentiation, survival or axon outgrowth were noted in these mutants, suggesting a specificity of cAMP production routes for individual cellular processes within a given neuron. Further studies indicate that the subcellular localization of ACs could be key to their specific role in axon targeting and may explain their selective roles in neuronal wiring.

Keywords: axon guidance; barrel cortex; cortico-spinal; olfactory receptors; pruning; retina.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenylyl Cyclases / genetics
  • Adenylyl Cyclases / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Connectome*
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neurogenesis*
  • Neurons / enzymology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Olfactory Pathways / growth & development
  • Olfactory Pathways / metabolism
  • Olfactory Pathways / physiology
  • Pyramidal Tracts / growth & development
  • Pyramidal Tracts / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Tracts / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / growth & development
  • Visual Pathways / metabolism
  • Visual Pathways / physiology


  • Cyclic AMP
  • Adenylyl Cyclases