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Neuron. 1995 May;14(5):961-72.

Guidance of cerebellofugal axons in the rat embryo: directed growth toward the floor plate and subsequent elongation along the longitudinal axis.

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Department of Biophysical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Science, Osaka University, Japan.


To elucidate guidance mechanisms of brain commissural axons, we examined the navigation of cerebellofugal axons. Axons were labeled by implantation of the fluorescent tracer Dil into the cerebellar plate (CP) of fixed, flat whole-mount embryonic rat brain. Axons initially grew straight toward the ventral midline floor plate (FP) in the rostral hindbrain and then, after crossing it, made a right-angled turn to grow either caudally or rostrally along the longitudinal axis. In collagen gel culture, CP axons showed directed growth toward both FP explants and heterologous cells expressing netrin-1, a FP-derived chemoattractant for spinal commissural axons. These results suggest that CP axons are guided to the midline by FP-derived chemoattractant(s) and then reoriented, possibly by another guidance cue, for longitudinal extension. Considering that the basic structures of the neural tube, including the FP, extend up to the caudal diencephalon, these results suggest that common guidance mechanisms operate for ventrally decussating commissural axons in both the brain and spinal cord.

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