Right place, right time – Spatial guidance of neuronal morphogenesis by septin GTPases

Neuronal morphogenesis is guided by outside-in signals and inside-out mechanisms, which require spatiotemporal precision. How the intracellular mechanisms of neuronal morphogenesis are spatiotemporally controlled is not well understood. Septins comprise a unique GTPase module, which consists of complexes with differential localizations and functions. Septins demarcate distinct membrane domains in neural precursor cells, orienting the axis of cell division and the sites of neurite formation. By controlling the localization of membrane and cytoskeletal proteins, septins promote axon-dendrite formation and polarity. Furthermore, septins modulate vesicle exocytosis at pre-synaptic terminals, and stabilize dendritic spines and post-synaptic densities in a phospho-regulatable manner. We posit that neuronal septins are topologically and functionally specialized for the spatiotemporal regulation of neuronal morphogenesis and plasticity.