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The majority of neurons in the nervous system exhibit a polarized morphology, with multiple short dendrites and a single long axon. It is clear that multiple factors govern polarization in developing neurons, and the biased accumulation of intrinsic determinants to one side of the cell, coupled with responses to asymmetrically localized extrinsic factors, appears to be crucial. A number of intrinsic factors have been identified, but surprisingly little is known about the identity of the extrinsic signals. Here, we show in vivo that neuropilin-1 (Nrp1) and its co-receptor plexinA1 (Plxna1) are necessary to bias the extension of the dendrites of retinal ganglion cells to the apical side of the cell, and ectopically expressed class III semaphorins (Sema3s) disrupt this process. Importantly, the requirement for Nrp1 and Plxna1 in dendrite polarization occurs at a developmental time point after the cells have already extended their basally directed axon. Thus, we propose a novel mechanism whereby an extrinsic factor, probably a Sema3, acts through Nrp1 and Plxna1 to promote the asymmetric outgrowth of dendrites independently of axon polarization.


Elizabeth M Kita, Gabriel E Bertolesi, Carrie L Hehr, Jillian Johnston, Sarah McFarlane. Neuropilin-1 biases dendrite polarization in the retina. Development (Cambridge, England). 2013 Jul;140(14):2933-41

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PMID: 23739132

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