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Neuron. 2001 Oct 11;32(1):25-38.

C. elegans slit acts in midline, dorsal-ventral, and anterior-posterior guidance via the SAX-3/Robo receptor.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Anatomy, The University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


Robo receptors interact with ligands of the Slit family. The nematode C. elegans has one Robo receptor (SAX-3) and one Slit protein (SLT-1), which direct ventral axon guidance and guidance at the midline. In larvae, slt-1 expression in dorsal muscles repels axons to promote ventral guidance. SLT-1 acts through the SAX-3 receptor, in parallel with the ventral attractant UNC-6 (Netrin). Removing both UNC-6 and SLT-1 eliminates all ventral guidance information for some axons, revealing an underlying longitudinal guidance pathway. In the embryo, slt-1 is expressed at high levels in anterior epidermis. Embryonic expression of SLT-1 provides anterior-posterior guidance information to migrating CAN neurons. Surprisingly, slt-1 mutants do not exhibit the nerve ring and epithelial defects of sax-3 mutants, suggesting that SAX-3 has both Slit-dependent and Slit-independent functions in development.

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