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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Plexin/neuropilin complexes mediate repulsion by the axonal guidance signal semaphorin 3A.

In the developing nervous system axons navigate with great precision over large distances to reach their target areas. Chemorepulsive signals such as the semaphorins play an essential role in this process. The effects of one of these repulsive cues, semaphorin 3A (Sema3A), are mediated by the membrane protein neuropilin-1 (Npn-1). Recent work has shown that neuropilin-1 is essential but not sufficient to form functional Sema3A receptors and indicates that additional components are required to transduce signals from the cell surface to the cytoskeleton. Here we show that members of the plexin family interact with the neuropilins and act as co-receptors for Sema3A. Neuropilin/plexin interaction restricts the binding specificity of neuropilin-1 and allows the receptor complex to discriminate between two different semaphorins. Deletion of the highly conserved cytoplasmic domain of Plexin-A1 or -A2 creates a dominant negative Sema3A receptor that renders sensory axons resistant to the repulsive effects of Sema3A when expressed in sensory ganglia. These data suggest that functional semaphorin receptors contain plexins as signal-transducing and neuropilins as ligand-binding subunits.[1]


  1. Plexin/neuropilin complexes mediate repulsion by the axonal guidance signal semaphorin 3A. Rohm, B., Ottemeyer, A., Lohrum, M., Püschel, A.W. Mech. Dev. (2000) [Pubmed]
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