Protocadherin-17 mediates collective axon extension by recruiting actin regulator complexes to interaxonal contacts

Dev Cell. 2014 Sep 29;30(6):673-87. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2014.07.015. Epub 2014 Sep 4.


In the process of neuronal wiring, axons derived from the same functional group typically extend together, resulting in fascicle formation. How these axons communicate with one another remains largely unknown. Here, we show that protocadherin-17 (Pcdh17) supports this group extension by recruiting actin polymerization regulators to interaxonal contact sites. Pcdh17 is expressed by a subset of amygdala neurons, and it accumulates at axon-axon boundaries because of homophilic binding. Pcdh17 knockout in mice suppressed the extension of these axons. Ectopically expressed Pcdh17 altered the pattern of axon extension. In in-vitro cultures, wild-type growth cones normally migrate along other axons, whereas Pcdh17 null growth cones do not. Pcdh17 recruits the WAVE complex, Lamellipodin, and Ena/VASP to cell-cell contacts, converting these sites into motile structures. We propose that, through these mechanisms, Pcdh17 maintains the migration of growth cones that are in contact with other axons, thereby supporting their collective extension.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Amygdala / cytology
  • Amygdala / growth & development
  • Amygdala / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Axons / physiology
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Movement
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Growth Cones / metabolism*
  • Growth Cones / physiology
  • Mice
  • Protocadherins
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein Family / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Cadherins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • ENA-VASP proteins
  • Pcdh1 protein, mouse
  • Protocadherins
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein Family