Many curious minds have wondered; how do axons guide themselves to establish unique connections to other neurons? Axons allow our brains to be able to interact in different ways in different situations. When we study how people think, react and interact, we typically understand the behaviour and the overall basis of how it works, however, we have never really delved deep into how these interconnections actually form, to allow us to think, react and interact.
Axons are equipped with growth cones, that navigates by sensing its environment. These growth cones encounters a succession of ‘sign posts’: netrin, ephrin, sema3 and slit3 genes. Receptors on the neurons are able to detect these guidance cones by binding onto them. This can be approved by the scientific study conducted that involved embryonic eye tissue in a petri dish. There were a selection of different growth cones, and you can present it with a molecule that you would want to test to see the different responses that the tissue may present in the petri dish. This shows how growth cones respond and grow due to the different environments - some axons are attracted and some present repulsion to molecules such as netrin for example. If you remove the particular receptor and its specific guidance cone, the axons will form to become lost and disorganized.
Ephrin is used for the chiasm for the retina, and without it, the nerves would not have diverted to a different direction. Netrin presented capabilities of causing attraction of the axons, whereas ephrin was seen to be repulsive to the growth cones. The usage of ephrin and netrin presented different behavior by the neurons, meaning that these molecules are critical for directing the axons to its designated destination in the brain so that it can participate in its specific function - without them, the axons will not be able to form connections to the right neurons for the right functions, leaving the interconnected communication between neurons to be unrecognisable. Further research in this area will be very useful for future application of this technology, as neuron integration is an area that has left scientists fighting to work out the secret to it. There is no doubt that if a significant breakthrough is made, it will become easier to cure neurodegenerative diseases.