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J Neurosci. 2001 Jun 15;21(12):4281-9.

Diversity and specificity of actions of Slit2 proteolytic fragments in axon guidance.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U106, Bâtiment de Pédiatrie, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, 75013 Paris, France.


The Slits are secreted proteins that bind to Robo receptors and play a role in axon guidance and neuronal migration. In vertebrates, Slit2 is a major chemorepellent for developing axons and is involved in the control of midline crossing. In vivo, Slit2 is cleaved into 140 kDa N-terminal (Slit2-N) and 55-60 kDa C-terminal (Slit2-C) fragments, although the uncleaved/full-length form can also be isolated from brain extract. We explored the functional activities of Slit2 fragments by engineering mutant and truncated versions of Slit2 representing the N-, C-, and full/uncleavable (Slit2-U) fragments. Only Slit2-N and Slit2-U bind the Robo proteins. We found that in collagen gel, olfactory bulb (OB) but not dorsal root ganglia (DRG) axons are repelled by Slit2-N and Slit2-U. Moreover, only Slit2-N membranes or purified protein-induced OB growth cones collapse. Finally, we found that only recombinant Slit2-N could induce branching of DRG axons and that this effect was antagonized by Slit2-U. Therefore, different axons have distinct responses to Slit2 fragments, and these proteins have different growth-promoting capacities.

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