Repulsive guidance cues induce growth cone collapse or collapse and retraction. Collapse results from disruption and loss of the actin cytoskeleton. Actin-rich regions of growth cones contain binding proteins that influence filament organization, such as Arp2/3, cortactin, and fascin, but little is known about the role that these proteins play in collapse. Here, we show that Semaphorin 3A (Sema 3A), which is repulsive to mouse dorsal root ganglion neurons, has unequal effects on actin binding proteins and their associated filaments. The immunofluorescence staining intensity of Arp-2 and cortactin decreases relative to total protein; whereas in unextracted growth cones fascin increases. Fascin and myosin IIB staining redistribute and show increased overlap. The degree of actin filament loss during collapse correlates with filament superstructures detected by rotary shadow electron microscopy. Collapse results in the loss of branched f-actin meshworks, while actin bundles are partially retained to varying degrees. Taken together with the known affects of Sema 3A on actin, this suggests a model for collapse that follows a sequence; depolymerization of actin meshworks followed by partial depolymerization of fascin associated actin bundles and their movement to the neurite to complete collapse. The relocated fascin associated actin bundles may provide the substrate for actomyosin contractions that produce retraction.
- Growth cones