Unlike the familiar blob-like shape of most cells, neurons have distinct regions. The cell body, home to the nucleus, has long been considered the control center of the neuron. The axons and dendrites are seen as the signal-carrying and signal-receiving parts of the neuron. Axons send out long, spindly arms to form connections, called synapses, with other neurons.

Now, research led by investigators at HSCRB suggests that these distinct parts of the neuron are far more complex than once thought. Published in Nature, the study proposes that neurons operate through an intricate web of decision making, rather than by ‘central command’.

The findings have implications for the study of neural circuit formation and neural regeneration.

Source article: Poulopoulos A, Murphy AJ, Ozkan A, Davis P, Hatch J, Kirschner R, Macklis J.D. (2019) Subcellular transcriptomes and proteomes of developing axon projections in the cerebral cortex. Nature 565:356-360. Published online 9 January; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0847-y

This summary is based on a news story that originally appeared on the Harvard Medical School website entitled, “More than a courier,” published 11 February 2019.