N-cadherin specifies first asymmetry in developing neurons

Annette Gärtner, Eugenio F. Fornasiero, Sebastian Munck, Krist'l Vennekens, Eve Seuntjens, Wieland B. Huttner, Flavia Valtorta, Carlos G. Dotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The precise polarization and orientation of developing neurons is essential for the correct wiring of the brain. In pyramidal excitatory neurons, polarization begins with the sprouting of opposite neurites, which later define directed migration and axo-dendritic domains. We here show that endogenous N-cadherin concentrates at one pole of the newborn neuron, from where the first neurite subsequently emerges. Ectopic N-cadherin is sufficient to favour the place of appearance of the first neurite. The Golgi and centrosome move towards this newly formed morphological pole in a second step, which is regulated by PI3K and the actin/microtubule cytoskeleton. Moreover, loss of function experiments in vivo showed that developing neurons with a non-functional N-cadherin misorient their cell axis. These results show that polarization of N-cadherin in the immediate post-mitotic stage is an early and crucial mechanism in neuronal polarity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1893-1903
Number of pages11
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 18 2012


  • cell axis orientation
  • centrosome
  • cortical development
  • N-cadherin
  • neuronal polarity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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