Axon pathfinding for locomotion

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Motor neurons of the spinal cord are responsible for the assembly of neuromuscular connections indispensable for basic locomotion and skilled movements. A precise spatial relationship exists between the position of motor neuron cell bodies in the spinal cord and the course of their axonal projections to peripheral muscle targets. Motor neuron innervation of the vertebrate limb is a prime example of this topographic organization and by virtue of its accessibility and predictability has provided access to fundamental principles of motor system development and neuronal guidance. The seemingly basic binary map established by genetically defined motor neuron subtypes that target muscles in the limb is directed by a surprisingly large number of directional cues. Rather than being simply redundant, these converging signaling pathways are hierarchically linked and cooperate to increase the fidelity of axon pathfinding decisions. A current priority is to determine how multiple guidance signals are integrated by individual growth cones and how they synergize to delineate class-specific axonal trajectories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-35
Number of pages10
JournalSeminars in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • Axon guidance signaling
  • Limb innervation
  • Motor neuron subtypes
  • Neural circuit development
  • Neuromuscular connections
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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