Beyond Molecular Codes: Simple Rules to Wire Complex Brains

Cell. 2015 Oct 8;163(2):285-91. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.09.031.


Molecular codes, like postal zip codes, are generally considered a robust way to ensure the specificity of neuronal target selection. However, a code capable of unambiguously generating complex neural circuits is difficult to conceive. Here, we re-examine the notion of molecular codes in the light of developmental algorithms. We explore how molecules and mechanisms that have been considered part of a code may alternatively implement simple pattern formation rules sufficient to ensure wiring specificity in neural circuits. This analysis delineates a pattern-based framework for circuit construction that may contribute to our understanding of brain wiring.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Synapses