Nakajima C, Sawada M, Umeda E, Takagi Y, Nakashima N, Kuboyama K, Kaneko N, Yamamoto S, Nakamura H, Shimada N, Nakamura K, Matsuno K, Uesugi S, Vepřek NA, Küllmer F, Nasufović V, Uchiyama H, Nakada M, Otsuka Y, Ito Y, Herranz-Pérez V, García-Verdugo JM, Ohno N, Arndt HD, Trauner D, Tabata Y, Igarashi M, Sawamoto K. Identification of the growth cone as a probe and driver of neuronal migration in the injured brain. Nat Commun. 2024 Mar 9;15(1):1877. doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-45825-8. PMID: 38461182; PMCID: PMC10924819.


Axonal growth cones mediate axonal guidance and growth regulation. We show that migrating neurons in mice possess a growth cone at the tip of their leading process, similar to that of axons, in terms of the cytoskeletal dynamics and functional responsivity through protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor type sigma (PTPσ). Migrating-neuron growth cones respond to chondroitin sulfate (CS) through PTPσ and collapse, which leads to inhibition of neuronal migration. In the presence of CS, the growth cones can revert to their extended morphology when their leading filopodia interact with heparan sulfate (HS), thus re-enabling neuronal migration. Implantation of an HS-containing biomaterial in the CS-rich injured cortex promotes the extension of the growth cone and improve the migration and regeneration of neurons, thereby enabling functional recovery. Thus, the growth cone of migrating neurons is responsive to extracellular environments and acts as a primary regulator of neuronal migration.