Axonal cytomechanics in neuronal development

Abstract

For more than a century, mechanical forces have been predicted to govern many biological processes during development, both at the cellular level and in tissue homeostasis. The cytomechanics of the thin and highly extended neuronal axons have intrigued generations of biologists and biophysicists. However, our knowledge of the biophysics of neurite growth and development is far from complete. Due to its motile behavior and its importance in axonal pathfinding, the growth cone has received significant attention. A considerable amount of information is now available on the spatiotemporal regulation of biochemical signaling and remodeling of the growth cone cytoskeleton. However, the cytoskeletal organization and dynamics in the axonal shaft were poorly explored until recently. Driven by advances in microscopy, there has been a surge of interest in the axonal cytoskeleton in the last few years. A major emerging area of investigation is the relationship between the axonal cytoskeleton and the diverse mechanobiological responses of neurons. This review attempts to summarize our current understanding of the axonal cytoskeleton and its critical role in governing axonal mechanics in the context of neuronal development.

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Figure 1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    Note added in proof: Two new publications now demonstrate the presence of myosin-II associated with the periodic actin rings in the axons of mature rodent hippocampal neurons (Costa et al. 2020; Wang et al. 2020). These finding highlight our assertion that mechanical studies of axons need to be undertaken along with a careful analysis of the developmental maturation of the axonal cytoskeletal.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank Dr. Pramod A. Pullarkat and Dr. Nishikant K. Subhedar for their critical reading of the manuscript and their insightful inputs. Research on the mechanical responses of axons in the AG laboratory has been supported by grants from the Department of Biotechnology (BT/PR13310/GBD/27/245/2009), the Science and Engineering Research Board of the Government of India (EMR/2016/003730) and the intramural support from IISER Pune to AG. The Nano Mission Council of the Department of Science and Technology (SR/NM/NS-42/2009) has supported IISER Pune to establish several shared facilities which have aided research in the AG laboratory.

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Correspondence to Sampada P Mutalik or Aurnab Ghose.

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Corresponding editor: Neeraj Jain

Corresponding editor: Neeraj Jain

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Mutalik, S.P., Ghose, A. Axonal cytomechanics in neuronal development. J Biosci 45, 64 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12038-020-00029-2

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Keywords

  • Axon
  • cytoskeleton
  • mechanical forces
  • neuronal development
  • tension