Scientific article

Dendrites In Vitro and In Vivo Contain Microtubules of Opposite Polarity and Axon Formation Correlates with Uniform Plus-End-Out Microtubule Orientation

Published inThe Journal of neuroscience, vol. 36, no. 4, p. 1071-1085
Publication date2016

In cultured vertebrate neurons, axons have a uniform arrangement of microtubules with plus-ends distal to the cell body (plus-end-out), whereas dendrites contain mixed polarity orientations with both plus-end-out and minus-end-out oriented microtubules. Rather than non-uniform microtubules, uniparallel minus-end-out microtubules are the signature of dendrites in Drosophila and Caenorhabditis elegans neurons. To determine whether mixed microtubule organization is a conserved feature of vertebrate dendrites, we used live-cell imaging to systematically analyze microtubule plus-end orientations in primary cultures of rat hippocampal and cortical neurons, dentate granule cells in mouse organotypic slices, and layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons in the somatosensory cortex of living mice. In vitro and in vivo, all microtubules had a plus-end-out orientation in axons, whereas microtubules in dendrites had mixed orientations. When dendritic microtubules were severed by laser-based microsurgery, we detected equal numbers of plus- and minus-end-out microtubule orientations throughout the dendritic processes. In dendrites, the minus-end-out microtubules were generally more stable and comparable with plus-end-out microtubules in axons. Interestingly, at early stages of neuronal development in nonpolarized cells, newly formed neurites already contained microtubules of opposite polarity, suggesting that the establishment of uniform plus-end-out microtubules occurs during axon formation. We propose a model in which the selective formation of uniform plus-end-out microtubules in the axon is a critical process underlying neuronal polarization.

  • Animals
  • Axons/physiology
  • Cell Polarity/physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Centrioles/physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex/cytology
  • Dendrites/physiology
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins/genetics/metabolism
  • Hippocampus/cytology
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microfilament Proteins/genetics/metabolism
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins/genetics/metabolism
  • Microtubules/physiology
  • Neurons/cytology
  • RNA, Small Interfering/genetics/metabolism
  • Rats
  • Time Factors
  • Tubulin/metabolism
Citation (ISO format)
YAU, Kah Wai et al. Dendrites In Vitro and In Vivo Contain Microtubules of Opposite Polarity and Axon Formation Correlates with Uniform Plus-End-Out Microtubule Orientation. In: The Journal of neuroscience, 2016, vol. 36, n° 4, p. 1071–1085. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2430-15.2016
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0270-6474

Technical informations

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First validation10/24/2016 2:06:00 PM
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