Protein kinases: master regulators of neuritogenesis and therapeutic targets for axon regeneration

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2020 Apr;77(8):1511-1530. doi: 10.1007/s00018-019-03336-6. Epub 2019 Oct 28.


Proper neurite formation is essential for appropriate neuronal morphology to develop and defects at this early foundational stage have serious implications for overall neuronal function. Neuritogenesis is tightly regulated by various signaling mechanisms that control the timing and placement of neurite initiation, as well as the various processes necessary for neurite elongation to occur. Kinases are integral components of these regulatory pathways that control the activation and inactivation of their targets. This review provides a comprehensive summary of the kinases that are notably involved in regulating neurite formation, which is a complex process that involves cytoskeletal rearrangements, addition of plasma membrane to increase neuronal surface area, coupling of cytoskeleton/plasma membrane, metabolic regulation, and regulation of neuronal differentiation. Since kinases are key regulators of these functions during neuromorphogenesis, they have high potential for use as therapeutic targets for axon regeneration after injury or disease where neurite formation is disrupted.

Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; Axonal outgrowth; Neurite outgrowth; Neurodevelopmental disorder; Protein modification.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nerve Regeneration*
  • Neurogenesis*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*


  • Protein Kinases