A fundamental question in neuroscience is how axons and dendrites grow. It is widely accepted that growth is a complex mechanical process that involves the transport of organelles and cytoskeletal components, cytoskeletal dynamics, and force generation, yet because most research has focused on biochemistry and molecular genetics, little is known about neuronal mechanics and transport underlying growth. Advancing the knowledge of these processes is critical for better understanding the development of the nervous system, the pathological progression of neurodegenerative diseases, acute traumatic injury, and for designing novel approaches to promote neuronal regeneration following disease, stroke, or trauma.
Now is a particularly exciting time to unravel the underlying molecular mechanisms of neuronal mechanics and transport. Recent advances in quantitative live cell imaging, biophysical, and nanotechnological methods such as traction force microscopy, optical tweezers, and atomic force microscopy have enabled researchers to gain better insights into how cytoskeletal dynamics and motor-driven transport, membrane-dynamics, adhesion, and substrate rigidity contribute to axonal elongation. Given the complexity of this problem and its inherently mechanical nature, this area of research leans itself to mathematical modeling. Nonetheless, there has been limited direct interaction between experimentalists and theoreticians. In these terms, the purpose of this Frontiers Research Topic is to highlight relevant, exciting, and important work that is currently developing in the fields of neuronal cell biology, neuronal mechanics, intracellular transport, and mathematical modeling in the form of primary research articles, reviews, perspectives, and commentaries.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.
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