Microtubule dynamics in axon guidance

Neurosci Bull. 2014 Aug;30(4):569-83. doi: 10.1007/s12264-014-1444-6. Epub 2014 Jun 26.


Precise modulation of the cytoskeleton is involved in a variety of cellular processes including cell division, migration, polarity, and adhesion. In developing post-mitotic neurons, extracellular guidance cues not only trigger signaling cascades that act at a distance to indirectly regulate microtubule distribution, and assembly and disassembly in the growth cone, but also directly modulate microtubule stability and dynamics through coupling of guidance receptors with microtubules to control growth-cone turning. Microtubule-associated proteins including classical microtubule-associated proteins and microtubule plus-end tracking proteins are required for modulating microtubule dynamics to influence growth-cone steering. Multiple key signaling components, such as calcium, small GTPases, glycogen synthase kinase-3β, and c-Jun N-terminal kinase, link upstream signal cascades to microtubule stability and dynamics in the growth cone to control axon outgrowth and projection. Understanding the functions and regulation of microtubule dynamics in the growth cone provides new insights into the molecular mechanisms of axon guidance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Growth Cones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Tubulin