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Abstract

Abstract

Commissural axons grow along complex pathways toward, across, and beyond the midline of the central nervous system. Taking commissural axons in the vertebrate spinal cord and the ventral nerve cord as examples, we examine how commissural axon pathfinding is regulated by the Slit family of guidance cues and their Robo family receptors. We extract several principles that seem likely to apply to other axons and other contexts, such as the reiterative use of the same guidance molecules in distinct pathfinding decisions, the transcriptional specification of a pathway, the posttranscriptional regulation of growth along the pathway, and the possible role of feedback mechanisms to ensure the fidelity of pathfinding choices. Such mechanisms may help explain how a relatively small number of guidance molecules can generate complex and stereotyped wiring patterns. We also highlight the many gaps in our understanding of commissural axon pathfinding and question some widely accepted views. We hope that this review encourages further efforts to tackle these questions, in the expectation that this system will continue to reveal the general principles of axon pathfinding.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.cellbio.21.090704.151234
2006-11-10
2024-07-19
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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