Goodhill GJ. Mathematical guidance for axons.[Review] [27 refs].Trends in Neurosciences. 21(6):226-31, 1998 Jun.


Axon guidance by gradients plays an important role in wiring up the developing nervous system. Growth cones seem to sense a concentration difference across their spatial extent, and convert this into a signal to move up or down a gradient. In this article, a simple mathematical framework is developed to understand when and where gradient detection can occur as a function of gradient shape.This framework is applied to two examples:the guidance of axons by target-derived diffusible factors in vivo and in collagen gels, and guidance by substrate-bound gradients of optimal shape, as might be relevant in the retinotectal system.Two distinct spatial limits on guidance emerge: I mm for a target-derived diffusible gradient, and I cm for a substrate-bound gradient.

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