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

Conversion of cell movement responses to Semaphorin-1 and Plexin-1 from attraction to repulsion by lowered levels of specific RAC GTPases in C. elegans.

Plexins are functional receptors for Semaphorin axon guidance cues. Previous studies have established that some Plexins directly bind RAC(GTP) and RHO. Recent work in C. elegans showed that semaphorin 1 (smp-1 and smp-2) and plexin 1 (plx-1) are required to prevent anterior displacement of the ray 1 cells in the male tail (Fujii et al., 2002; Ginzburg et al., 2002). We show genetically that plx-1 is part of the same functional pathway as smp-1 and smp-2 for male ray positioning. RAC GTPase genes mig-2 and ced-10 probably function redundantly, whereas unc-73, which encodes a GEF for both of these GTPases, is required cell autonomously for preventing anterior displacement of ray 1 cells. RNAi analysis indicates that rho-1-encoded RHO GTPase, plus let-502 and K08B12.5-encoded RHO-kinases, are also required to prevent anterior displacement of ray 1 cells, suggesting that different kinds of RHO-family GTPases act similarly in ray 1 positioning. At low doses of wild-type mig-2 and ced-10, the Semaphorin 1 proteins no longer act through PLX-1 to prevent anterior displacements of ray 1, but have the opposite effect, acting through PLX-1 to mediate anterior displacements of ray 1. These results suggest that Plexin 1 senses levels of distinct RHO and RAC GTPases. At normal levels of RHO and RAC, Semaphorin 1 proteins and PLX-1 prevent a forward displacement of ray 1 cells, whereas at low levels of cycling RAC, Semaphorin 1 proteins and PLX-1 actively mediate their anterior displacement. Endogenously and ectopically expressed SMP-1 and SMP-2 suggest that the hook, a major source of Semaphorin 1 proteins in the male tail, normally attracts PLX-1-expressing ray 1 cells.[1]


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