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Cell. 1994 Aug 12;78(3):409-24.

The netrins define a family of axon outgrowth-promoting proteins homologous to C. elegans UNC-6.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0452.


In vertebrates, commissural axons pioneer a circumferential pathway to the floor plate at the ventral midline of the embryonic spinal cord. Floor plate cells secrete a diffusible factor that promotes the outgrowth of commissural axons in vitro. We have purified from embryonic chick brain two proteins, netrin-1 and netrin-2, that each possess commissural axon outgrowth-promoting activity, and we have also identified a distinct activity that potentiates their effects. Cloning of cDNAs encoding the two netrins shows that they are homologous to UNC-6, a laminin-related protein required for the circumferential migration of cells and axons in C. elegans. This homology suggests that growth cones in the vertebrate spinal cord and the nematode are responsive to similar molecular cues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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