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IUBMB Life. 1999 Nov;48(5):477-82.

Plexins, semaphorins, and scatter factor receptors: a common root for cell guidance signals?

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Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (IRCC), University of Torino Medical School, Italy.


Semaphorins, the plexin family of semaphorin receptors, and scatter factor receptors share evolutionarily conserved protein modules, such as the semaphorin domain and Met Related Sequences (MRS). All these proteins also have in common a role in mediating cell guidance cues. During development, scatter factor receptors control cell migration, epithelial tubulogenesis, and neurite extension. Semaphorins and their receptors are known signals for axon guidance; they are also suspected to regulate developmental processes involving cell migration and morphogenesis, and have been implicated in immune function and tumor progression. Scatter factors and secreted semaphorins are diffusible ligands, whereas membrane-bound semaphorins signal by cell-cell interaction. Cell guidance control by semaphorins requires plexins, alone or in a receptor complex with neuropilins. Semaphorins, besides their role in axon guidance, are expected to have multiple functions in morphogenesis and tissue remodeling by mediating cell-repelling cues through plexin receptors.

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