Nerves, like mountaineers, need expert guidance to find their way

Scientists discover that motor neurons receive a multitude of cues to successfully navigate to their destinations in the body


Source: Salk Institute



  • Similar to the dozens of Sherpas that guide hikers up treacherous Himalayan mountains to reach a summit, the nervous system relies on elaborate timing and location of guidance cues for neuronal axons, threadlike projections, to successfully reach their destinations in the body.

  • Now, researchers discover how neurons navigate a tricky cellular environment by listening for directions, while simultaneously filtering out inappropriate instructions to avoid getting lost.

  • The brain controls hundreds of different muscles to allow for precise movement. During development, motor neurons in the spinal cord extend their axons outside of the central nervous system to connect with muscle cells in the body.

Every motor neuron relies on a set of genes to ensure the axon grows correctly to the muscle

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