Molecular Memory of Morphologies by Septins during Neuron Generation Allows Early Polarity Inheritance

Neuron. 2017 Aug 16;95(4):834-851.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.07.027.


Transmission of polarity established early during cell lineage history is emerging as a key process guiding cell differentiation. Highly polarized neurons provide a fascinating model to study inheritance of polarity over cell generations and across morphological transitions. Neural crest cells (NCCs) migrate to the dorsal root ganglia to generate neurons directly or after cell divisions in situ. Using live imaging of vertebrate embryo slices, we found that bipolar NCC progenitors lose their polarity, retracting their processes to round for division, but generate neurons with bipolar morphology by emitting processes from the same locations as the progenitor. Monitoring the dynamics of Septins, which play key roles in yeast polarity, indicates that Septin 7 tags process sites for re-initiation of process growth following mitosis. Interfering with Septins blocks this mechanism. Thus, Septins store polarity features during mitotic rounding so that daughters can reconstitute the initial progenitor polarity.

Keywords: DRG neuron; Septin; axon; cell division; cell shape; live imaging; molecular memory; morphological remodeling; neuronal polarity; polarity inheritance.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Polarity / genetics*
  • Cell Shape / genetics*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Chick Embryo
  • Electroporation
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / embryology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Neurites / physiology
  • Neurogenesis / genetics*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Septins / genetics
  • Septins / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / embryology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Yeasts / genetics


  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Transcription Factors
  • Septins