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Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2004 Sep-Dec;39(5-6):319-41.

Axon guidance at the midline: from mutants to mechanisms.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


How axons in the developing nervous system successfully navigate to their correct targets is a fundamental problem in neurobiology. Understanding the mechanisms that mediate axon guidance will give important insight into how the nervous system is correctly wired during development and may have implications for therapeutic approaches to developmental brain disorders and nerve regeneration. Achieving this understanding will require unraveling the molecular logic that ensures the proper expression and localization of axon guidance cues and receptors, and elucidating the signaling events that regulate the growth cone cytoskeleton in response to guidance receptor activation. Studies of axon guidance at the midline of many experimental systems, from the ventral midline of Drosophila to the vertebrate spinal cord, have led to important mechanistic insights into the complex problem of wiring the nervous system. Here we review recent advances in understanding the regulation of midline axon guidance, with a particular emphasis on the contributions made from molecular genetic studies of invertebrate model systems.

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