The drebrin/EB3 pathway regulates cytoskeletal dynamics to drive neuritogenesis in embryonic cortical neurons

Thanushiyan Poobalasingam, Francesca Bianco, Fazal Oozeer, Phillip R Gordon-Weeks

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Co-ordinating the dynamic behaviour of actin filaments (F-actin) and microtubules in filopodia is an important underlying process in neuritogenesis, but the molecular pathways involved are ill-defined. The drebrin/end-binding protein 3 (EB3) pathway is a candidate pathway for linking F-actin to microtubules in filopodia. Drebrin binds F-actin and, simultaneously, the microtubule-binding protein EB3 when bound to microtubule plus-ends. We assessed the effect on neuritogenesis of gain- or loss-of-function of proteins in the drebrin/EB3 pathway in rat embryonic cortical neurons in culture. Loss-of-function of drebrin by gene editing or pharmacological inhibition of drebrin binding to F-actin reduced the number of dynamic microtubules in the cell periphery and simultaneously delayed the initiation of neuritogenesis, whereas over-expression of drebrin induced supernumerary neurites. Similarly, loss of EB3 inhibited neuritogenesis, whereas loss of end-binding protein 1 (EB1), a related protein that does not bind to drebrin, did not affect neuritogenesis. Over-expression of EB3, but not EB1, induced supernumerary neurites. We discovered that EB3 is more proximally located at dynamic microtubule plus-ends than EB1 in growth cone filopodia allowing for continuous microtubule elongation as the drebrin/EB3 pathway zippers microtubules to F-actin in filopodia. Finally, we showed that preventing the entry of dynamic microtubules into filopodia using a pharmacological inhibitor of microtubule dynamics is associated with a loss of EB3, but not EB1, from microtubule plus-ends and a concurrent attenuation of neuritogenesis. Collectively, these findings support the idea that neuritogenesis depends on microtubule/F-actin zippering in filopodia orchestrated by the drebrin/EB3 pathway. (Figure presented.).

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Sept 2021


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