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Clutching at Guidance Cues: The Integrin–FAK Axis Steers Axon Outgrowth

Davis-Lunn, Matthew, Goult, Benjamin T, Andrews, Melissa R (2023) Clutching at Guidance Cues: The Integrin–FAK Axis Steers Axon Outgrowth. Biology, 12 (9). Article Number 954. ISSN 2079-7737. (doi:10.3390/biology12070954) (KAR id:101934)


Integrin receptors are essential contributors to neurite outgrowth and axon elongation. Activated integrins engage components of the extracellular matrix, enabling the growth cone to form point contacts, which connect the extracellular substrate to dynamic intracellular protein complexes. These adhesion complexes facilitate efficient growth cone migration and neurite extension. Major signalling pathways mediated by the adhesion complex are instigated by focal adhesion kinase (FAK), whilst axonal guidance molecules present in vivo promote growth cone turning or retraction by local modulation of FAK activity. Activation of FAK is marked by phosphorylation following integrin engagement, and this activity is tightly regulated during neurite outgrowth. FAK inhibition slows neurite outgrowth by reducing point contact turnover; however, mutant FAK constructs with enhanced activity stimulate aberrant outgrowth. Importantly, FAK is a major structural component of maturing adhesion sites, which provide the platform for actin polymerisation to drive leading edge advance. In this review, we discuss the coordinated signalling of integrin receptors and FAK, as well as their role in regulating neurite outgrowth and axon elongation. We also discuss the importance of the integrin–FAK axis in vivo, as integrin expression and activation are key determinants of successful axon regeneration following injury.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3390/biology12070954
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.
Uncontrolled keywords: Integrin, talin, FAK, axon, neurite, neuroscience
Subjects: Q Science
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH581.2 Cell Biology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Biosciences
Funders: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (
Depositing User: Ben Goult
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2023 07:52 UTC
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2023 15:24 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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