The intricate connections of the nervous system are established, in part, by elongating axonal fibers that are directed by complex guidance systems to home in on their specific targets. The growth cone, the major motile apparatus at the tip of axons, explores its surroundings and steers the axon along a defined path to its appropriate target. Significant progress has been made in identifying the guidance molecules and receptors that regulate growth cone pathfinding, the signaling cascades underlying distinct growth cone behaviors, and the cytoskeletal components that give rise to the directional motility of the growth cone. Recent studies have also shed light on the sophisticated mechanisms and new players utilized by the growth cone during pathfinding. It is clear that axon pathfinding requires a growth cone to sample and integrate various signals both in space and in time, and subsequently to coordinate the dynamics of its membrane, cytoskeleton and adhesion to generate specific responses.
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