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Cell. 1999 Mar 19;96(6):807-18.

Vertebrate slit, a secreted ligand for the transmembrane protein roundabout, is a repellent for olfactory bulb axons.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The olfactory bulb plays a central role in olfactory information processing through its connections with both peripheral and cortical structures. Axons projecting from the olfactory bulb to the telencephalon are guided by a repulsive activity in the septum. The molecular nature of the repellent is not known. We report here the isolation of vertebrate homologs of the Drosophila slit gene and show that Slit protein binds to the transmembrane protein Roundabout (Robo). Slit is expressed in the septum whereas Robo is expressed in the olfactory bulb. Functionally, Slit acts as a chemorepellent for olfactory bulb axons. These results establish a ligand-receptor relationship between two molecules important for neural development, suggest a role for Slit in olfactory bulb axon guidance, and reveal the existence of a new family of axon guidance molecules.

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