Transcription factors establish the tremendous diversity of cell types in the nervous system by regulating the expression of genes that give a cell its morphological and functional properties. Although many studies have identified requirements for specific transcription factors during the different steps of neural circuit assembly, few have identified the downstream effectors by which they control neuronal morphology. In this Review, we highlight recent work that has elucidated the functional relationships between transcription factors and the downstream effectors through which they regulate neural connectivity in multiple model systems, with a focus on axon guidance and dendrite morphogenesis.
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