Neuron connectivity depends on growth cones that navigate axons through the developing brain. Growth cones protrude and retract actin-rich structures to sense guidance cues. These cues control local actin dynamics and steer growth cones towards attractants and away from repellents, thereby directing axon outgrowth. Hence, actin binding proteins (ABPs) moved into the focus as critical regulators of neuron connectivity. We found cyclase-associated protein 1 (CAP1), an ABP with unknown brain function, abundant in growth cones. Super-resolution microscopy and live cell imaging combined with pharmacological approaches on hippocampal neurons from gene-targeted mice revealed a crucial role for CAP1 in actin dynamics that is critical for growth cone morphology and function. Growth cone defects in mutant neurons compromised neuron differentiation and was associated with impaired neuron connectivity in CAP1 mutant brains. Mechanistically, we found that CAP1 and cofilin1 synergistically control growth cone actin dynamic and morphology. Together, we identified CAP1 as a novel actin regulator in growth cone that is relevant for neuron connectivity.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience