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Mol Cell Neurosci. 1996;8(2-3):185-98.

The Eph kinase ligand AL-1 is expressed by rostral muscles and inhibits outgrowth from caudal neurons.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


In the peripheral nervous system, neurons derived from specific rostrocaudal levels of the neuraxis selectively synapse on targets that arise from corresponding body positions. To identify molecules involved in such position-dependent connectivity, we used subtractive hybridization to isolate genes selectively expressed in rostral or caudal skeletal muscle. One mRNA that was more abundant in neck than in hindlimb muscles encoded the mouse ortholog of human AL-1 and chick RAGS, membrane-associated ligands of Eph tyrosine kinases that have recently been implicated in cortical axon fasciculation and retinotectal connectivity, respectively. We show here that mouse AL-1 is expressed in discrete regions of the central and peripheral nervous systems and in a subset of developing skeletal muscles. The abundance of AL-1 RNA in immortalized myogenic cell lines derived from rostral muscles is higher than in caudally derived lines, suggesting that levels are heritably maintained. Growth of neurites from cultured sensory ganglia and spinal cords is specifically inhibited by cells expressing AL-1, suggesting that this molecule could serve to guide peripheral axons. The inhibitory effects of AL-1 are position dependent, such that axons derived from caudal (lumbar) ganglia are more affected than those derived from rostral (cervical) ganglia. Together, these results support the notion that Eph kinases and their ligands regulate topographically appropriate neural connectivity in the peripheral nervous system, as well as in the central nervous system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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