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Nature. 2006 Nov 16;444(7117):369-73. Epub 2006 Nov 1.

Boc is a receptor for sonic hedgehog in the guidance of commissural axons.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


In the spinal cord, sonic hedgehog (Shh) is secreted by the floor plate to control the generation of distinct classes of ventral neurons along the dorsoventral axis. Genetic and in vitro studies have shown that Shh also later acts as a midline-derived chemoattractant for commissural axons. However, the receptor(s) responsible for Shh attraction remain unknown. Here we show that two Robo-related proteins, Boc and Cdon, bind specifically to Shh and are therefore candidate receptors for the action of Shh as an axon guidance ligand. Boc is expressed by commissural neurons, and targeted disruption of Boc in mouse results in the misguidance of commissural axons towards the floor plate. RNA-interference-mediated knockdown of Boc impairs the ability of rat commissural axons to turn towards an ectopic source of Shh in vitro. Taken together, these data suggest that Boc is essential as a receptor for Shh in commissural axon guidance.

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