The Notch receptor signaling pathway is important for morphogenesis and development of many organs and tissues in most if not all multicellular species. The classical view holds that Notch signaling keeps cells in an undifferentiated state. Recently, however, this notion has been challenged in the nervous system by two sets of observations: Notch plays an active role in the differentiation of glial cells,(1-4) and Notch influences the length and organisation of neuronal processes.(5-7) In this review, we analyse these recent data and discuss how Notch signaling may be able to perform such quite different tasks during nervous system development. BioEssays 23:3-7, 2001.
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