STIM1 is required for remodeling of the endoplasmic reticulum and microtubule cytoskeleton in steering growth cones

Macarena Pavez, Adrian C. Thompson, Hayden J. Arnott, Camilla B. Mitchell, Ilaria D'Atri, Emily K. Don, John K. Chilton, Ethan K. Scott, John Y. Lin, Kaylene M. Young, Robert J. Gasperini, Lisa Foa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The spatial and temporal regulation of calcium signaling in neuronal growth cones is essential for axon guidance. In growth cones, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a significant source of calcium signals. However, it is not clear whether the ER is remodeled during motile events to localize calcium signals in steering growth cones. The expression of the ER-calcium sensor, stromal interacting molecule 1 (STIM1) is necessary for growth cone steering toward the calcium-dependent guidance cue BDNF, with STIM1 functioning to sustain calcium signals through store-operated calcium entry. However, STIM1 is also required for growth cone steering away from semaphorin-3a, a guidance cue that does not activate ER-calcium release, suggesting multiple functions of STIM1 within growth cones (Mitchell et al., 2012). STIM1 also interacts with microtubule plus-end binding proteins EB1/EB3 (Grigoriev et al., 2008). Here, we show that STIM1 associates with EB1/EB3 in growth cones and that STIM1 expression is critical for microtubule recruitment and subsequent ER remodeling to the motile side of steering growth cones. Furthermore, we extend our data in vivo, demonstrating that zSTIM1 is required for axon guidance in actively navigating zebrafish motor neurons, regulating calcium signaling and filopodial formation. These data demonstrate that, in response to multiple guidance cues, STIM1 couples microtubule organization and ER-derived calcium signals, thereby providing a mechanism where STIM1-mediated ER remodeling, particularly in filopodia, regulates spatiotemporal calcium signals during axon guidance. 

Significance statement: Defects in both axon guidance and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) function are implicated in a range of developmental disorders. During neuronal circuit development, the spatial localization of calcium signals controls the growth cone cytoskeleton to direct motility. We demonstrate a novel role for stromal interacting molecule 1 (STIM1) in regulating microtubule and subsequent ER remodeling in navigating growth cones. We show that STIM1, an activator of store-operated calcium entry, regulates the dynamics of microtubule-binding proteins EB1/EB3, coupling ER to microtubules, within filopodia, thereby steering growth cones. The STIM1-microtubule-ER interaction provides a new model for spatial localization of calcium signals in navigating growth cones in the nascent nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5095-5114
Number of pages20
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2019


  • axon guidance
  • calcium
  • endoplasmic reticulum
  • microtubule
  • optogenetic
  • STIM1


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