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Study overturns key assumption in nervous system research

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removing netrin1 results in very disorganized axon growth in mice/UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, Neuron

From ScienceDaily:

New research by scientists at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA overturns a long-standing paradigm about how axons — thread-like projections that connect cells in the nervous system — grow during embryonic development. The findings of the study, led by Samantha Butler, associate professor of neurobiology, could help scientists replicate or control the way axons grow, which may be applicable for diseases that affect the nervous system, such as diabetes, as well as injuries that sever nerves.

They found that neural progenitors organize axon growth by producing a pathway of netrin1 that directs axons only in their local environment and not over long distances. This pathway of netrin1 acts as a sticky surface that encourages axon growth in the directions that form a normal, functioning nervous system.

Butler’s study is a significant reinterpretation of the role of netrin1 in nervous system formation. The results further scientists’ understanding of the contribution neural progenitors make to neural circuit formation. Determining how netrin1 specifically influences axon growth could help scientists use netrin1 to regenerate axons more effectively in patients whose nerves have been damaged.Paper. (paywall) – Samantha J. Butler et al. Netrin1 Produced by Neural Progenitors, Not Floor Plate Cells, Is Required for Axon Guidance in the Spinal Cord. Neuron, April 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2017.03.007 More.

Curious, how often settled assumption get overturned these days. And how much of it involves communication paths.

See also: Can lampreys offer insight into the evolution of gut neurons?

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Richard Dawkins said embryology "is all done by local rules" rather than by an overall plan. Although genes do regulate neuronal migration, maybe we must concede his point without accepting his larger conclusions. Any comments on this? bill sabol
Sev, it's that old reading difficulty you have, come back to haunt you. I anticipated your objection, so wrote '....TENDED not to be random.' In any case, everything that is intelligible was clearly designed and created whether directly or indirectly by some providential intelligent agency, mortal or divine. Even your eye-sight, as you struggle - through no fault of your Creator, I hasten to add - to read this. Though I expect you will question of the necessity of the Fall of Adam and Eve to permit them freedom of moral choice, and your equally fallible eye-sight, as a long-term consequence. Meat-heads don't have choices, do they ? Nor should they. You give God a good telling off on Judgment Day. Axel
Allen Shepherd @4:
We have no understanding of how the brain comes about [...]
That's correct. What about the observed process of formation of the zygote and its development? Do we have it all figured out? Can we get serious on these discussions? Dionisio
Allen Shepherd @4:
We have no understanding of how the brain comes about [...]
That's correct. But let's leave that difficult topic aside for a moment and look at something much simpler. How much understanding of how the hand comes about? Dionisio
Allen Shepherd @4:
We have no understanding of how the brain comes about [...]
That's correct. Do we understand exactly how it functions? Are we there yet? Dionisio
Seversky at 3: "A river leads somewhere. Its course is not designed, but is still caused. Does that indicate will or volition?" I cannot see the comparison between a river (influenced by topography and gravity) and the most complex thing in the universe, the human brain. One is influenced by two things, the other is unbelievably complex. We understand, at least superficially the river. We have no understanding of how the brain comes about, even with this insight. I don't think you are mad, S, but I don't think those two have anything in common. Allen Shepherd
A river leads somewhere. Its course is not designed but is still caused. Does that indicate will or volition? Seversky
Sev, you are mad. Mad as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking-chairs. Paths lead somewhere. They tend not to be random. Communication, likewise indicates purpose. Purpose indicates will, volition. Volition indicates the soul. No. I won't seek to justify the basis for asserting the latter to you, since you cannot countenance far more obvious and well-proven facts. Axel
Sounds like good, solid materialistic science. Nothing about the role of the design inference or supernatural entities. Seversky

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