Microtubules Modulate F-actin Dynamics during Neuronal Polarization

  • Bing Zhao (Shared first author)
  • Praveen Meka (Shared first author)
  • Robin Scharrenberg
  • Theresa König
  • Birgit Schwanke
  • Oliver Kobler
  • Sabine Windhorst
  • Michael R Kreutz
  • Marina Mikhaylova
  • Froylan Calderon de Anda


Neuronal polarization is reflected by different dynamics of microtubule and filamentous actin (F-actin). Axonal microtubules are more stable than those in the remaining neurites, while dynamics of F-actin in axonal growth cones clearly exceed those in their dendritic counterparts. However, whether a functional interplay exists between the microtubule network and F-actin dynamics in growing axons and whether this interplay is instrumental for breaking cellular symmetry is currently unknown. Here, we show that an increment on microtubule stability or number of microtubules is associated with increased F-actin dynamics. Moreover, we show that Drebrin E, an F-actin and microtubule plus-end binding protein, mediates this cross talk. Drebrin E segregates preferentially to growth cones with a higher F-actin treadmilling rate, where more microtubule plus-ends are found. Interruption of the interaction of Drebrin E with microtubules decreases F-actin dynamics and arrests neuronal polarization. Collectively the data show that microtubules modulate F-actin dynamics for initial axon extension during neuronal development.

Bibliographical data

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 29.08.2017
PubMed 28851982