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J Neurosci. 2012 Jun 20;32(25):8554-9. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5964-11.2012.

Differing semaphorin 3A concentrations trigger distinct signaling mechanisms in growth cone collapse.

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Department of Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3DY, United Kingdom.


Semaphorin-3A (Sema3A) is a major guidance cue in the developing nervous system. Previous studies have revealed a dependence of responses to Sema3A on local protein synthesis (PS) in axonal growth cones, but a recent study has called this dependence into question. To understand the basis of this discrepancy we used the growth cone collapse assay on chick dorsal root ganglion neurons. We show that the dependence of growth cone collapse on protein synthesis varies according to Sema3A concentration, from near-total at low concentration (<100 ng/ml) to minimal at high concentration (>625 ng/ml). Further, we show that neuropilin-1 (NP-1) mediates both PS-dependent and PS-independent collapse. Our findings are consistent with the operation of at least two distinct Sema3A signaling pathways: one that is PS-dependent, involving mammalian target of rapamycin, and one that is PS-independent, involving GSK-3β activation and operative at all concentrations of Sema3A examined. The results provide a plausible explanation for the discrepancy in PS-dependence reported in the literature, and indicate that different signaling pathways activated within growth cones can be modulated by changing the concentration of the same guidance cue.

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