Axonal fusion: An alternative and efficient mechanism of nerve repair

Brent Neumann, Casey Linton, Rosina Giordano-Santini, Massimo A Hilliard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Injuries to the nervous system can cause lifelong morbidity due to the disconnect that occurs between nerve cells and their cellular targets. Re-establishing these lost connections is the ultimate goal of endogenous regenerative mechanisms, as well as those induced by exogenous manipulations in a laboratory or clinical setting. Reconnection between severed neuronal fibers occurs spontaneously in some invertebrate species and can be induced in mammalian systems. This process, known as axonal fusion, represents a highly efficient means of repair after injury. Recent progress has greatly enhanced our understanding of the molecular control of axonal fusion, demonstrating that the machinery required for the engulfment of apoptotic cells is repurposed to mediate the reconnection between severed axon fragments, which are subsequently merged by fusogen proteins. Here, we review our current understanding of naturally occurring axonal fusion events, as well as those being ectopically produced with the aim of achieving better clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-101
Number of pages14
JournalProgress in Neurobiology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Apoptotic recognition
  • Axonal fusion
  • Functional recovery
  • Fusogens
  • Nerve repair
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Regeneration

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