Mammalian SAD kinases are required for neuronal polarization.
Electrical activity in neurons is generally initiated in dendritic processes then propagated along axons to synapses, where it is passed to other neurons. Major structural features of neurons-their dendrites and axons-are thus related to their fundamental functions: the receipt and transmission of information. The acquisition of these distinct properties by dendrites and axons, called polarization, is a critical step in neuronal differentiation. We show here that SAD-A and SAD-B, mammalian orthologs of a kinase needed for presynaptic differentiation in Caenorhabditis elegans, are required for neuronal polarization. These kinases will provide entry points for unraveling signaling mechanisms that polarize neurons.