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Biol Cell. 2003 Oct;95(7):425-36.

The dependence receptors DCC and UNC5H as a link between neuronal guidance and survival.

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Apoptosis/Differentiation Laboratory, Equipe labellisée, Molecular and Cellular Genetic Center, CNRS UMR 5534, University of Lyon, 69622 Villeurbanne, France.


Netrins are secreted proteins that play a crucial role in neuronal migration and in axon guidance during the development of the nervous system. Netrin-1 has been shown to interact with the transmembrane receptors DCC and UNC5H and these receptors appeared of key importance in mediating the chemotropic activity of netrin-1. Before the discovery of DCC as a netrin-1 receptor, the gene encoding DCC was proposed as a putative tumor suppressor gene because one DCC allele was deleted in roughly 70% of colorectal cancers and its expression was often reduced or absent in colorectal cancer tissues. A putative explanation for such dual roles has recently emerged with the observation that DCC belongs to the growing family of dependence receptors. Such receptors share the property of inducing apoptosis in the absence of ligand, hence creating a cellular state of dependence on the ligand. The other netrin-1 receptors UNC5H were also subsequently proposed to be dependence receptors, suggesting that netrin-1 may not only be a chemotropic factor for neurons but also a survival factor. We describe here netrin-1 and its receptors, together with the molecular signaling pathways initiated upon netrin-1 binding or upon netrin-1 withdrawal leading respectively to axonal/neuronal guidance or cell death induction. We then conclude to the possible roles of DCC and UNC5H pro-apoptotic activities in both nervous system development and tumorigenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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