Growth cone neurotransmitter receptor activation modulates electric field-guided nerve growth

Lynda Erskine, Colin Darnley McCaig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


We have studied the interactions between two nerve guidance cues, which alone induce substantial growth cone turning: endogenous neurotransmitters and small dc electric fields. d-tubocurarine, a nicotinic AChR (acetylcholine receptor) antagonist, inhibited field-induced cathodal orientation of cultured neurites, whereas atropine, a muscarinic AChR blocker, and suramin, a P2-purinoceptor antagonist, markedly enhanced the guidance properties of the applied field. These experiments implicate the activation of growth cone nicotinic AChRs by self-released acetylcholine in the mechanism underpinning electric field-induced neurite orientation and raise the possibility that growth cones release neurotransmitter prior to target interaction in order to assist their own pathfinding. Additionally, they provide the first evidence that coactivation of several neurotransmitter receptors may interact to regulate directed nerve growth. Such interaction in vivo, where guidance signals coexist, would add further levels of control to neurite guidance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-339
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1995


  • Animals
  • Atropine
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Female
  • Neurites
  • Receptors, Cholinergic
  • Receptors, Muscarinic
  • Receptors, Purinergic
  • Suramin
  • Tubocurarine
  • Xenopus


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