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J Neurobiol. 2003 Oct;57(1):15-30.

Abelson tyrosine kinase is required to transduce midline repulsive cues.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Wayne State University, 5047 Gullen Mall, Detroit, Michigan 48202, USA.


Tyrosine phosphorylation-dependent signaling cascades play key roles in determining the formation of an axon pathway. The cytoplasmic Abelson tyrosine kinase participate in several signaling pathways that orchestrate both growth cone advance and steering in response to guidance cues. Here, a genetic approach is used to evaluate the role for Abelson in growth cones during a decision to cross or not to cross the Drosophila embryonic midline. Our data indicate that both loss- and gain-of-function conditions for Abl cause neurons within the pCC/MP2 pathway to project across the midline incorrectly. The frequency of abnormal crossovers is enhanced by mutations in the genes encoding the midline repellent, Slit, or its receptor, Roundabout. In comm mutants, where repulsive signals remain elevated, increasing or decreasing Abl activity partially rescues commissure formation. Thus, both too much and too little Abl activity causes axons to cross the midline inappropriately, indicating that Abl plays a critical role in transducing midline repulsive cues. How Abl functions in this role is not yet clear, but we suggest that Abl may help regulate cytoskeletal dynamics underlying a growth cone's response to midline cues.

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