Myosin 1b promotes axon formation by regulating actin wave propagation and growth cone dynamics
Single-headed myosin 1 has been identified in neurons, but its function in these cells is still unclear. We demonstrate that depletion of myosin 1b (Myo1b), inhibition of its motor activity, or its binding to phosphoinositides impairs the formation of the axon, whereas overexpression of Myo1b increases the number of axon-like structures. Myo1b is associated with growth cones and actin waves, two major contributors to neuronal symmetry breaking. We show that Myo1b controls the dynamics of the growth cones and the anterograde propagation of the actin waves. By coupling the membrane to the actin cytoskeleton, Myo1b regulates the size of the actin network as well as the stability and size of filopodia in the growth cones. Our data provide the first evidence that a myosin 1 plays a major role in neuronal symmetry breaking and argue for a mechanical control of the actin cytoskeleton both in actin waves and in the growth cones by this myosin.