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Mech Dev. 2001 Aug;106(1-2):25-36.

The function of leak and kuzbanian during growth cone and cell migration.

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Institut für Neurobiologie, Universität Münster, Badestrasse 9, 48149, Münster, Germany.


Axonal growth cones require an evolutionary conserved repulsive guidance system to ensure proper crossing of the CNS midline. In Drosophila, the Slit protein is a repulsive signal secreted by the midline glial cells. It binds to the Roundabout receptors, which are expressed on CNS axons in the longitudinal tracts but not in the commissural tracts. Here we present an analysis of the genes leak and kuzbanian and show that both genes are involved in the repulsive guidance system operating at the CNS midline. Mutations in leak, which encodes the Roundabout-2 Slit receptor, were first recovered by Nüsslein-Volhard and co-workers based on defects in the larval cuticle. Analysis of the head phenotype suggests that slit may be able to act as an attractive guidance cue while directing the movements of the dorsal ectodermal cell sheath. kuzbanian also regulates midline crossing of CNS axons. It encodes a metalloprotease of the ADAM family and genetically interacts with slit. Expression of a dominant negative Kuzbanian protein in the CNS midline cells results in an abnormal midline crossing of axons and prevents the clearance of the Roundabout receptor from commissural axons. Our analyses support a model in which Kuzbanian mediates the proteolytic activation of the Slit/Roundabout receptor complex.

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