Cortical axons branch to multiple subcortical targets by interstitial axon budding: implications for target recognition and "waiting periods"

Neuron. 1988 Dec;1(10):901-10. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(88)90147-x.


We are studying how axons branch in vivo. Individual cortical neurons send axons to both the spinal cord and the basilar pons. Here we show that the corticopontine projection develops by an interstitial budding of collaterals from parent axons rather than a reported mechanism of axon branching, growth cone bifurcation. This mechanism is used regardless of whether the parent axon's postpontine segment, which forms the corticospinal projection, is permanent (motor cortex) or transient (visual cortex). Budding occurs days after the parent axons grow spinally past the pons, accounting for the "waiting period" reported in this system in contrast to an alternative explanation that the growth cones pause outside of their target. Timing and location of pontine collateral budding vary with cortical origin of the parent axon and are correlated with the temporal ordering of axon arrival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Female
  • Motor Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Motor Cortex / growth & development
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Pons / anatomy & histology
  • Pons / cytology
  • Pons / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Rats
  • Spinal Cord / anatomy & histology
  • Spinal Cord / cytology
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Cortex / growth & development
  • Visual Cortex / physiology