Sensory Axon growth requires spatiotemporal integration of CaSR and TrkB Signaling

Ronja Markworth, Youri Adolfs, Vivian Dambeck, Lars M. Steinbeck, Muriel Lizé, R. Jeroen Pasterkamp, Mathias Bähr, Camin Dean, Katja Burk*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Neural circuit development involves the coordinated growth and guidance of axons. During this process, axons encounter many different cues, but how these cues are integrated and translated into growth is poorly understood. In this study, we report that receptor signaling does not follow a linear path but changes dependent on developmental stage and coreceptors involved. Using developing chicken embryos of both sexes, our data show that calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR), a G-protein-coupled receptor important for regulating calcium homeostasis, regulates neurite growth in two distinct ways. First, when signaling in isolation, CaSR promotes growth through the PI3-kinase-Akt pathway. At later developmental stages, CaSR enhances tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB)/BDNF-mediated neurite growth. This enhancement is facilitated through a switch in the signaling cascade downstream of CaSR (i.e., from the PI3-kinase-Akt pathway to activation of GSK3α Tyr279). TrkB and CaSR colocalize within late endosomes, cotraffic and coactivate GSK3, which serves as a shared signaling node for both receptors. Our study provides evidence that two unrelated receptors can integrate their individual signaling cascades toward a nonadditive effect and thus control neurite growth during development. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT This work highlights the effect of receptor coactivation and signal integration in a developmental setting. During embryonic development, neurites grow toward their targets guided by cues in the extracellular environment. These cues are sensed by receptors at the surface that trigger intracellular signaling events modulating the cytoskeleton. Emerging evidence suggests that the effects of guidance cues are diversified, therefore expanding the number of responses. Here, we show that two unrelated receptors can change the downstream signaling cascade and regulate neuronal growth through a shared signaling node. In addition to unraveling a novel signaling pathway in neurite growth, this research stresses the importance of receptor coactivation and signal integration during development of the nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5842-5860
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jul 2019


  • CaSR
  • cosignaling
  • GSK3
  • neurite growth
  • signal integration
  • TrkB


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