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Mech Dev. 2000 Jun;94(1-2):213-7.

Expression of the vertebrate Slit gene family and their putative receptors, the Robo genes, in the developing murine kidney.

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Centre for Molecular and Cellular Biology, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


The slit (sli) gene, encoding a secreted glycoprotein, has been demonstrated to play a vital role in axonal guidance in Drosophila melanogaster by acting as a signalling ligand for the robo receptor (Rothberg, J.M., Jacobs, J.R., Goodman, C.S., Artavanis-Tsakonas, S., 1990. slit: an extracellular protein necessary for development of midline glia and commissural axon pathways contains both EGF and LRR domains. Genes Dev. 4, 2169-2187; Kidd, T., Bland, K.S., Goodman, C. S., 1999. Slit is the midline repellent for the robo receptor in Drosophila. Cell 96, 785-794). Multiple homologs of both sli and robo have been identified in vertebrates and are thought to play similar roles to their fly counterparts in neural development (Brose, K., Bland, K.S., Wang, K.H., Arnott, D., Henzel, W., Goodman, C.S., Tessier-Lavigne, M., Kidd, T., 1999. Slit proteins bind Robo receptors and have an evolutionarily conserved role in repulsive axon guidance. Cell 96, 795-806). Slit2 has been shown to bind Robo1, mediating both neuronal and axonal guidance in the developing central nervous system (CNS), (Brose et al., 1999; Hu, H., 1999. Chemorepulsion of neuronal migration by Slit2 in the developing mammalian forebrain. Neuron 23, 703-711). Importantly, both gene families display distinct expression patterns outside the CNS (Holmes, G.P., Negus, K., Burridge, L., Raman, S., Algar, E., Yamada, T., Little, M.H., 1998. Distinct but overlapping expression patterns of two vertebrate slit homologs implies functional roles in CNS development and organogenesis. Mech. Dev. 79, 57-72; Yuan, W., Zhou, L., Chen, J.H., Wu, J.Y., Rao, Y., Ornitz, D.M., 1999. The mouse SLIT family: secreted ligands for ROBO expressed in patterns that suggest a role in morphogenesis and axon guidance. Dev. Biol. 212, 290-306). Using in situ hybridization on metanephric explant cultures and urogenital tract sections, the expression patterns of Slit1, 2, 3 and Robo1 and 2 were investigated during murine metanephric development. Slit1 was expressed in the metanephric mesenchyme (MM) surrounding the invading ureteric tree (UT). Slit2 was expressed at the tips of the UT and both Slit2 and Slit3 were expressed at the far proximal end of the comma shaped and S-shaped bodies. Expression of Robo1 was initially diffuse throughout the MM, then upregulated in the pretubular aggregates, and maintained at the distal end of the comma and S-shaped bodies. Robo2 was detected in the induced MM surrounding the arborizing UT tips and later in the proximal end of the S-shaped bodies. Coincident expression of Robo1 with Slit1 in the metanephric mesenchyme and Robo2, Slit2 and Slit3 in the far proximal end of the S-shaped bodies was observed during metanephric development.

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