Paul Letourneau, PhD

Professor Emeritus, Department of Neuroscience


Research Summary/Interests

Developmental neurobiology

Research in Dr. Letourneau's laboratory is directed at understanding how nerve fibers grow and how the complex circuits of neuronal connections are formed during embryogenesis. Our goal is to understand how the intrinsic mechanisms that regulate the motile activity of extending axons is regulated by extrinsic molecules of the local environment. These molecules are guidance cues that define the pathways of axonal growth from neuronal cell bodies to synaptic targets. The methods we use to pursue this goal include neuronal cell culture, videomicroscopy, fluorescence microscopy, biochemical analysis of proteins, use of mutant mice, gene transfection and electroporation.


San Miguel-Ruiz, JE & Letourneau, PC 2014, ‘The role of Arp2/3 in growth cone actin dynamics and guidance is substrate dependent’ J Neurosci, vol.34, no. 17, pp. 5895-908.

Gomez, TM & Letourneau, PC 2014, ‘Actin dynamics in growth cone motility and Navigation’ J Neurochem, vol. 129, no. 2, pp. 221-34.

Marsick, BM, Roche, FK & Letourneau, PC 2012, ‘Repulsive axon guidance cues ephrin-A2 and slit3 stop protrusion of the growth cone leading margin concurrently with inhibition of ADF/cofilin and ERM proteins’ Cytoskeleton (Hoboken), vol. 69, no. 7, pp. 496-505.

Marsick, BM, San Miguel-Ruiz, JE & Letourneau, PC 2012, ‘Activation of ezrin/radixin/moesin mediates attractive growth cone guidance through regulation of growth cone actin and adhesion receptors’ J Neurosci, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 282-96.

Marsick, BM & Letourneau, PC 2011, ‘Labeling F-actin barbed ends with rhodamine-actin in permeabilized neuronal growth cones’ J Vis Exp, no.49, p. 2409.

Marsick, BM, Flynn, KC, Santiago-Medina, M, Bamburg, JR & Letourneau, PC 2010, ‘Activation of ADF/cofilin mediates attractive growth cone turning toward nerve growth factor and netrin-1’ Dev Neurobiol, vol. 70, no. 8, pp. 565-88.

Letourneau, PC 2009, ‘Actin in axons: stable scaffolds and dynamic filaments’ Results Probl Cell Differ, vol. 48, pp. 65-90.

Roche, FK, Marsick, BM & Letourneau, PC 2009, ‘Protein synthesis in distal axons is not required for growth cone responses to guidance cues’ J Neurosci, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 638-52.

Harder, J, Xu, X, Letourneau, P & Lanier, LM 2008, ‘The actin cross-linking protein AFAP120 regulates axon elongation in a tyrosine phosphorylation-dependent manner’ Neurosci Lett, vol. 444, no. 2, pp. 132-6.

Blackmore, M & Letourneau, PC 2007, ‘Protein synthesis in distal axons is not required for axon growth in the embryonic spinal cord’ Dev Neurobiol, vol. 67, no. 7, pp. 976-86.