Role of laminin and integrin interactions in growth cone guidance

Mol Neurobiol. 1996 Apr;12(2):95-116. doi: 10.1007/BF02740648.


Laminin is well known to promote neuronal adhesion and axonal growth, but recent experiments suggest laminin has a wider role in guiding axons, both in development and regeneration. In vitro experiments demonstrate that laminin can alter the rate and direction of axonal growth, even when growth cone contact with laminin is transient. Investigations focused on a single neuronal type, such as retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), strongly implicate laminin as an important guidance molecule in development and suggest the involvement of integrins. Integrins are receptors for laminin, and neurons express multiple types of integrins that bind laminin. Morphologically, integrins cluster in point contacts, specialized regions of the growth cone that may coordinately regulate adhesion and motility. Recent evidence suggests that the structure and regulation of point contacts may differ from that of their nonneuronal counterpart, focal contacts. In part, this may be because the interaction of the cytoplasmic domain of integrin with the cytoskeleton is different in point contacts and focal contracts. Mutational studies where the cytoplasmic domain is truncated or altered are leading to a better understanding of the role of the alpha and beta subunit in regulating integrin clustering and binding to the cytoskeleton. In addition, whereas integrins may regulate motility through direct physical linkages to the growth cone cytoskeleton, an equally important role is their ability to elicit signaling, both through protein tyrosine phosphorylation and modulating calcium levels. Through such mechanisms integrins likely regulate the dynamic attachment and detachment of the growth cone as it moves on laminin substrates.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / drug effects
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Integrins / physiology*
  • Laminin / pharmacology
  • Laminin / physiology*
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Receptors, Laminin / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology


  • Integrins
  • Laminin
  • Receptors, Laminin