Press Releases
Jun. 29, 2009

Elucidation of a mechanism for postnatal rewiring of the brain

  • Yu Hayashi (Former graduate student, Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Tokyo; Current position: Special Postdoctoral Researcher, RIKEN)
  • Yuichi Iino (Professor, Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry, The University of Tokyo)
  • Takeo Kubo (Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Tokyo)


The brain initially contains both correct and incorrect connections, and a substantial degree of rewiring is required to achieve a functional circuit. During this process, neurites, the fundamental structures that interconnect neurons, are selected for elimination or incorporation into the mature circuit in a procedure known as “pruning”. The mechanism by which the neurites to be maintained are distinguished from those to be eliminated was unknown. Now, using the roundworm C. elegans, we have identified a molecule that binds to and protects the neurites to be maintained. This molecule, which is a secreted protein called Wnt, was originally well-known for its roles in early body development. Our findings of a novel Wnt function provide important insight into the mechanisms of brain maturation.

Paper information

Nature Neuroscience (advanced online publication), June 28, 2009
A trophic role for Wnt-Ror kinase signaling during developmental pruning in Caenorhabditis elegans
Yu Hayashi, Takaaki Hirotsu*, Ryo Iwata*, Eriko Kage-Nakadai, Hirofumi Kunitomo, Takeshi Ishihara, Yuichi Iino & Takeo Kubo (*equal contribution)