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Cell Mol Life Sci. 1999 Oct 1;56(1-2):62-8.

Netrins and netrin receptors.

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Department of Genetics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The formation of precise connections between neurons and their targets during development is dependent on extracellular guidance cues that allow growing axons to navigate to their targets. One family of such guidance molecules. conserved across all species examined, is that of the netrin/UNC-6 proteins. Netrins act to both attract and repel the growing axons of a broad range of neuronal cell types during development and are also involved in controling neuronal cell migration. These actions are mediated by specific receptor complexes containing either the colorectal cancer (DCC) or neogenin protein, in the case of the attractive receptor, or UNC-5-related proteins, in the case of the repellent receptor. Recent work has identified a key role for intracellular cyclic nucleotide levels in regulating the nature of the response of the growing axon to netrins as either attractive or repulsive. Netrin-DCC signaling has also been shown to regulate cell death in epithelial cells in vitro, raising the interesting possibility that netrins may also regulate cell death in the developing nervous system.

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