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How Neurons Sprout Like Trees

 
  August, 16 2006 10:19
your information resource in human molecular genetics
 
     
A paper to be published online by Nature this week reveals how some neurons establish and maintain a precise tree-like pattern of dendrites, the slim projections that carry electrical signals to and from neighbouring cells.

Certain neurons in the fruitfly Drosophila have a very precise arrangement in which the spreading dendrites of one overlap little with another, like tiles on a floor. Yuh-Nung Jan and colleagues show that a pathway of molecules already implicated in cell proliferation and cancer is also vital for this patterning. In fruitflies with mutations in a gene called warts, neurons are initially able to tile dendrites across the body wall correctly but then progressively lose branches. A gene called hippo appears to be essential for both the establishment and maintenance of dendritic tiling.

Author contact:

Yuh-Nung Jan (University of California & Howard Hughes Medical Institute, San Francisco, CA, USA)
E-mail: yuhnung.jan@ucsf.edu

(C) Nature press release.


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