Microtubule polarity is instructive for many aspects of neuronal polarity

Pankajam Thyagarajan, Chengye Feng, David Lee, Matthew Shorey, Melissa M. Rolls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Many neurons in bilaterian animals are polarized with functionally distinct axons and dendrites. Microtubule polarity, microtubule stability, and the axon initial segment (AIS) have all been shown to influence polarized transport in neurons. Each of these cytoskeletal cues could act independently to control axon and dendrite identity, or there could be a hierarchy in which one acts upstream of the others. Here we test the hypothesis that microtubule polarity acts as a master regulator of neuronal polarity by using a Drosophila genetic background in which some dendrites have normal minus-end-out microtubule polarity and others have the axonal plus-end-out polarity. In these mosaic dendrite arbors, we found that ribosomes, which are more abundant in dendrites than axons, were reduced in plus-end-out dendrites, while an axonal cargo was increased. In addition, we determined that microtubule stability was different in plus-end-out and minus-end-out dendrites, with plus-end-out ones having more stable microtubules like axons. Similarly, we found that ectopic diffusion barriers, like those at the AIS, formed at the base of dendrites with plus-end-out regions. Thus, changes in microtubule polarity were sufficient to rearrange other cytoskeletal features associated with neuronal polarization. However, overall neuron shape was maintained with only subtle changes in branching in mosaic arbors. We conclude that microtubule polarity can act upstream of many aspects of intracellular neuronal polarization, but shape is relatively resilient to changes in microtubule polarity in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-70
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental biology
StatePublished - Jun 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Microtubule polarity is instructive for many aspects of neuronal polarity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this