Dendrites play a central role in the integration and flow of information in the nervous system. The morphogenesis and maturation of dendrites is hence an essential step in the establishment of neuronal connectivity. Recent studies have uncovered crucial functions for extrinsic cues in the development of dendrites. We review the contribution of secreted polypeptide growth factors, contact-mediated proteins, and neuronal activity in distinct phases of dendrite development. We also highlight how extrinsic cues influence local and global intracellular mechanisms of dendrite morphogenesis. Finally, we discuss how these studies have advanced our understanding of neuronal connectivity and have shed light on the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders.
Keywords: calcium signaling; contact-mediated regulators; dendrite morphogenesis; neuronal activity; secreted polypeptide growth factors.
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