Competition in the Development of Nerve Connections

Arjen van Ooyen A.van.Ooyen at
Thu Jul 8 07:35:37 EST 1999


Competition for Neurotrophic Factor in the Development
of Nerve Connections

 A. van Ooyen & D. J. Willshaw 
 Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. Sci. (1999) 266: 883-892

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The development of nerve connections is thought to involve
competition among axons for survival promoting factors, or
neurotrophins, that are released by the targets they
innervate. Although the notion of competition is widely used within
neurobiology, there is little understanding of the nature of the
competitive process and the underlying mechanisms.
We present a new theoretical model to analyse competition
in the development of nerve connections. According to the model, the
precise manner in which neurotrophins regulate the growth of axons, in
particular the growth of their amount of neurotrophin receptor,
determines what patterns of target innervation can develop. The
regulation of neurotrophin receptors is involved also in the
degeneration and regeneration of connections. Competition in our model
can be influenced by factors dependent on and independent of neuronal
electrical activity. Our results point to the need to measure directly
the specific form of the regulation by neurotrophins of their receptors.

Arjen van Ooyen, Netherlands Institute for Brain Research,
Meibergdreef 33, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
email: A.van.Ooyen at 
phone: +31.20.5665483  fax: +31.20.6961006

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