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Development. 2011 Jun;138(11):2153-69. doi: 10.1242/dev.044529.

Netrins: versatile extracellular cues with diverse functions.

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Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, Montreal, QC H3A 2B4, Canada.


Netrins are secreted proteins that were first identified as guidance cues, directing cell and axon migration during neural development. Subsequent findings have demonstrated that netrins can influence the formation of multiple tissues, including the vasculature, lung, pancreas, muscle and mammary gland, by mediating cell migration, cell-cell interactions and cell-extracellular matrix adhesion. Recent evidence also implicates the ongoing expression of netrins and netrin receptors in the maintenance of cell-cell organisation in mature tissues. Here, we review the mechanisms involved in netrin signalling in vertebrate and invertebrate systems and discuss the functions of netrin signalling during the development of neural and non-neural tissues.

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