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J Neurosci. 2006 May 31;26(22):5872-80.

Mammalian motoneuron axon targeting requires receptor protein tyrosine phosphatases sigma and delta.

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  • 1McGill Cancer Centre, Department of Biochemistry, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, H3G 1Y6, Canada.


The leukocyte common antigen-related (LAR) subfamily of receptor protein tyrosine phosphatases (RPTPs), LAR, RPTP-sigma, and RPTP-delta, regulate neuroendocrine development, axonal regeneration, and hippocampal long-term potentiation in mammals. In Drosophila, RPTPs are required for appropriate axon targeting during embryonic development. In contrast, deletion of any one of the three LAR-RPTP family members in mammals does not result in gross axon targeting defects. Both RPTP-sigma and RPTP-delta are highly expressed in the developing mammalian nervous system, suggesting they might be functionally redundant. To test this hypothesis, we generated RPTP-sigma and RPTP-delta (RPTP-sigma/delta) double-mutant mice. Although embryonic day 18.5 RPTP-sigma and RPTP-delta single-mutant embryos were viable, RPTP-sigma/delta double mutants were paralyzed, were never observed to draw a breath, and died shortly after cesarean section. RPTP-sigma/delta double mutants exhibit severe muscle dysgenesis and severe loss of motoneurons in the spinal cord. Detailed analysis of the projections of phrenic nerves in RPTP-sigma/delta double mutants indicated that these motoneuron axons emerge normally from the cervical spinal cord, but stall on reaching the diaphragm. Our results demonstrate that RPTP-sigma and RPTP-delta complement each other functionally during mammalian development, and reveal an essential contribution of RPTP-sigma and RPTP-delta to appropriate motoneuron axon targeting during mammalian axonogenesis.

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