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J Neurosci. 2007 Jan 31;27(5):973-80.

Stromal cell-derived factor-1 antagonizes slit/robo signaling in vivo.

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


Retinal ganglion cell axons exit the eye, enter the optic stalk, cross the ventral midline at the optic chiasm, and terminate in the optic tectum of the zebrafish. While in the optic stalk, they grow immediately adjacent to cells expressing the powerful retinal axon repellent slit2. The chemokine stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF1) is expressed within the optic stalk and its receptor CXCR4 is expressed in retinal ganglion cells. SDF1 makes cultured retinal axons less responsive to slit2. Here, we show that reducing SDF1 signaling in vivo rescues retinal axon pathfinding errors in zebrafish mutants that have a partial functional loss of the slit receptor robo2. In contrast, reducing SDF1 signaling in animals that completely lack the robo2 receptor does not rescue retinal guidance errors. These results demonstrate that endogenous levels of SDF1 antagonize the repellent effects of slit/robo signaling in vivo and that this antagonism is important during axonal pathfinding.

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