The influence of activity on axon pathfinding in the optic tectum

Kita, Elizabeth M., Scott, Ethan K. and Goodhill, Geoffrey J. (2015) The influence of activity on axon pathfinding in the optic tectum. Developmental Neurobiology, 75 6: 608-620. doi:10.1002/dneu.22262

Author Kita, Elizabeth M.
Scott, Ethan K.
Goodhill, Geoffrey J.
Title The influence of activity on axon pathfinding in the optic tectum
Journal name Developmental Neurobiology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1932-846X
Publication date 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1002/dneu.22262
Open Access Status
Volume 75
Issue 6
Start page 608
End page 620
Total pages 13
Place of publication Hoboken, NJ, United States
Publisher John Wiley and Sons
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Abstract The relative importance of neural activity versus activity-independent cues in shaping the initial wiring of the brain is still largely an open question. While activity is clearly critical for circuit rearrangements after initial connections have been made, whether it also plays a role in initial axon pathfinding remains to be determined. Here, we investigated this question using the guidance of zebrafish retinal ganglion cell axons to their targets in the tectum as a model. Recent results have implicated biased branching as a key feature of pathfinding in the zebrafish tectum. Using tetrodotoxin to silence neural activity globally, we found a decrease in the area covered by axon branches during pathfinding. After reaching the target, there were dynamic differences in axon length, area and the number of branches between conditions. However, other aspects of pathfinding were unaffected by silencing, including the ratio of branches directed toward the target, length, and number of branches, as well as turning angle, velocity, and number of growth cones per axon. These results challenge the hypothesis that neural connections develop in sequential stages of molecularly guided pathfinding and activity-based refinement. Despite a maintenance of overall guidance, axon pathfinding dynamics can nevertheless be altered by activity loss.
Keyword Axon pathfinding
Neural development
Retinal ganglion cell
Topographic maps
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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