McGill Centre for Research in Neuroscience, and Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University Health Centre, 1650 Cedar Avenue, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1A4, Canada
The establishment of neuronal connections during embryonic development requires the precise guidance and targeting of the neuronal growth cone, an expanded cellular structure at the leading tip of a growing axon. The growth cone contains sophisticated signaling systems that allow the rapid communication between guidance receptors and the actin cytoskeleton in generating directed motility. Previous studies demonstrated a specific role for the Nck/Dock SH2/SH3 adapter protein in photoreceptor (R cell) axon guidance and target recognition in the Drosophila visual system, suggesting strongly that Nck/Dock is one of the long-sought missing links between cell surface receptors and the actin cytoskeleton. In this review, I discuss the recent progress on dissecting the Nck/Dock signaling pathways in R-cell growth cones. These studies have identified additional key components of the Nck/Dock signaling pathways for linking the receptor signaling to the remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton in controlling growth-cone motility.
Keywords: axon guidance, neuronal target recognition, signal transduction, fly visual system.