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Neuron. 1997 Sep;19(3):575-89.

Netrin-1 and DCC mediate axon guidance locally at the optic disc: loss of function leads to optic nerve hypoplasia.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of California, San Francisco 94143, USA.


Embryonic retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons must extend toward and grow through the optic disc to exit the eye into the optic nerve. In the embryonic mouse eye, we found that immunoreactivity for the axon guidance molecule netrin-1 was specifically on neuroepithelial cells at the disk surrounding exiting RGC axons, and RGC axons express the netrin receptor, DCC (deleted in colorectal cancer). In vitro, anti-DCC antibodies reduced RGC neurite outgrowth responses to netrin-1. In netrin-1- and DCC-deficient embryos, RGC axon pathfinding to the disc was unaffected; however, axons failed to exit into the optic nerve, resulting in optic nerve hypoplasia. Thus, netrin-1 through DCC appears to guide RGC axons locally at the optic disc rather than at long range, apparently reflecting the localization of netrin-1 protein to the vicinity of netrin-1-producing cells at the optic disc.

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