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Neuron. 2001 Oct 11;32(1):39-51.

Plexin B mediates axon guidance in Drosophila by simultaneously inhibiting active Rac and enhancing RhoA signaling.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Division of Neurobiology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, 519 LSA, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Plexins are neuronal receptors for the repulsive axon guidance molecule Semaphorins. Previous studies showed that Plexin B (PlexB) binds directly to the active, GTP-bound form of the Rac GTPase. Here, we define a seven amino acid sequence in PlexB required for Rac(GTP) binding. The interaction of PlexB with Rac(GTP) is necessary for Plexin-mediated axon guidance in vivo. A different region of PlexB binds to RhoA. Dosage-sensitive genetic interactions suggest that PlexB suppresses Rac activity and enhances RhoA activity. Biochemical evidence indicates that PlexB sequesters Rac(GTP) from its downstream effector PAK. These results suggest a model whereby PlexB mediates repulsion by coordinately regulating two small GTPases in opposite directions: PlexB binds to Rac(GTP) and downregulates its output by blocking its access to PAK and, at the same time, binds to and increases the output of RhoA.

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