A fundamental question in neuronal development is how growth cone cytoskeletal dynamics are coordinated to promote accurate axonal navigation. To address this question, we focus on microtubule plus-end tracking proteins (+TIPs), which may play a key role in axon guidance. We determined that TACC3 is a +TIP that promotes microtubule polymerization and axon outgrowth. We have begun to test the hypothesis that TACC3 spatially restricts microtubule polymerization in response to guidance signals in Xenopus laevis axons in vivo and ex vivo. We demonstrate that TACC3 is required to promote axon outgrowth and prevent spontaneous retractions. Additionally, we find that manipulation of TACC3 levels interferes with the growth cone response to axon guidance cues. Finally, we observe that ablation of TACC3 causes pathfinding defects in Xenopus laevis embryos. Together, our findings suggest that TACC3 functions as an axon guidance-regulating factor in embryonic neurons by spatially promoting microtubule polymerization dynamics.
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