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Neuron. 2010 Apr 29;66(2):205-19. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.04.006.

VEGFR2 (KDR/Flk1) signaling mediates axon growth in response to semaphorin 3E in the developing brain.

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Developmental Biology Institute of Marseille Luminy, CNRS UMR 6216, University of Mediterranee, Case 907, Parc Scientifique de Luminy, 13288 Marseille cedex 09, France.


Common factors are thought to control vascular and neuronal patterning. Here we report an in vivo requirement for the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor type 2 (VEGFR2) in axon tract formation in the mouse brain. We show that VEGFR2 is expressed by neurons of the subiculum and mediates axonal elongation in response to the semaphorin (Sema) family molecule, Sema3E. We further show that VEGFR2 associates with the PlexinD1/Neuropilin-1 (Nrp1) receptor complex for Sema3E and becomes tyrosine-phosphorylated upon Sema3E stimulation. In subicular neurons, Sema3E triggers VEGFR2-dependent activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway that is required for the increase in axonal growth. These results implicate VEGFR2 in axonal wiring through a mechanism dependent on Sema3E and independent of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) ligands. This mechanism provides an explanation as to how a semaphorin can activate an axon growth promoting response in developing neurons.

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