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J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2012 Dec;7(4):820-34. doi: 10.1007/s11481-011-9336-x. Epub 2012 Jan 21.

CXCL12 signaling in the development of the nervous system.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.


Chemokines are small, secreted proteins that have been shown to be important regulators of leukocyte trafficking and inflammation. All the known effects of chemokines are transduced by action at a family of G protein coupled receptors. Two of these receptors, CCR5 and CXCR4, are also known to be the major cellular receptors for HIV-1. Consideration of the evolution of the chemokine family has demonstrated that the chemokine Stromal cell Derived Factor-1 or SDF1 (CXCL12) and its receptor CXCR4 are the most ancient members of the family and existed in animals prior to the development of a sophisticated immune system. Thus, it appears that the original function of chemokine signaling was in the regulation of stem cell trafficking and development. CXCR4 signaling is important in the development of many tissues including the nervous system. Here we discuss the manner in which CXCR4 signaling can regulate the development of different structures in the central and peripheral nervous systems and the different strategies employed to achieve these effects.

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