The axonal cytoskeleton at the nanoscale


  • Christophe Leterrier

    Group Leader NeuroCyto lab, INP CNRS-Aix-Marseille University Marseille, France

The intricate morphology and molecular identity of axons are maintained for decades but also continuously adapt to changes in the environment and activity of neurons. Axons fulfill these paradoxical demands thanks to a unique cytoskeletal organization that ensures the coordinated transport, anchoring and mobility of axonal components. In our lab, we use super-resolution microscopy to map the nanoscale architecture actin-based structures within the axon. In the axon initial segment, a key compartment for the maintenance of neuronal polarity, we resolved a highly organized assembly encompassing the periodic actin/spectrin scaffold and its partners: ankyrin, myosin. We have also visualized new actin structures along the axon shaft: rings, hotspots and trails, and are now exploring their molecular organization and functions. For this, we develop a combination of versatile labeling, correlative live-cell/super-resolution/electron microscopy and quantitative analysis that allow for high-content, nanoscale interrogation of the axonal architecture.

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