Regenerative strategies that facilitate the regrowth and reconnection of neurons are some of the most promising methods in spinal cord injury research. An essential part of these strategies is an increased understanding of the mechanisms by which growing neurites seek out and synapse with viable targets. In this paper, we use computational and theoretical tools to examine the targeting efficiency of growing neurites subject to limited resources, such as maximum total neural tree length. We find that in order to efficiently reach a particular target, growing neurites must achieve balance between pruning and branching: rapidly growing neurites that do not prune will exhaust their resources, and frequently pruning neurites will fail to explore space effectively. We also find that the optimal branching/pruning balance must shift as the target distance changes: different strategies are called for to reach nearby vs. distant targets. This suggests the existence of a currently unidentified higher-level regulatory factor to control arborization dynamics. We propose that these findings may be useful in future therapies seeking to improve targeting rates through manipulation of arborization behaviors.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)