Strittmatter SM, Valenzuela D, Vartanian T, Sudo Y, Zuber MX, Fishman MC. 1991. Growth cone transduction: Go and GAP-43. Journal of cell science. Supplement. 15:27-33. Pubmed: 1840457


The neuronal growth cone plays a crucial role in forming the complex brain architecture achieved during development, and similar nerve terminal mechanisms may operate to modify synaptic structure during adulthood. The growth cone leads the elongating axon towards appropriate synaptic targets by altering motility in response to a variety of extracellular signals. Independently of extrinsic clues, neurons manifest intrinsic control of their growth and form (Banker and Cowan, 1979). Hence, there must be intracellular proteins which control nerve cell shape, so-called 'plasticity' or 'growth' genes. GAP-43 may be such a molecule (Skene and Willard, 1981; Benowitz and Lewis, 1983). For example, GAP-43 is localized to the growth cone membrane (Meiri et al. 1986; Skene et al. 1986) and can enhance filopodial formation even in non-neuronal cells (Zuber et al. 1989a). It includes a small region at the amino terminus for membrane association and perhaps growth cone targeting (Zuber et al. 1989b, Liu et al. 1991). We have found that Go, a member of the G protein family that links receptors and second messengers, is the major non-cytoskeletal protein in the growth cone membrane (Strittmatter et al. 1990). Double staining immunohistochemistry for GAP-43 and Go shows that the distributions of the two proteins are quite similar. Purified GAP-43 regulates the activity of purified Go (Strittmatter et al. 1990), a surprising observation since GAP-43 is an intracellular protein. We have compared the mechanism of GAP-43 activation of Go with that of G protein-linked receptors.2+ interactions between Go and GAP-43 suggest that Go plays a pivotal role in growth cone function, coordinating the effects of both extracellular signals and intracellular growth proteins.

Related Faculty

Photo of Mark C. Fishman

Mark C. Fishman’s group studies the heart-brain connection. They employ a range of genetic, developmental, and neurobiological tools in zebrafish to understand what the heart tells the brain, and how critical internal sensory systems adjust homeostatic and somatic behaviors, including social interactions.

Search Menu