The conserved DCC ligand-receptor pair Netrin and Frazzled (Fra) has a well-established role in axon guidance. However, the specific sequence motifs required for orchestrating downstream signaling events are not well understood. Evidence from vertebrates suggests that P3 is important for transducing Netrin-mediated turning and outgrowth, whereas in C. elegans it was shown that the P1 and P2 conserved sequence motifs are required for a gain-of-function outgrowth response. Here, we demonstrate that Drosophila fra mutant embryos exhibit guidance defects in a specific subset of commissural axons and these defects can be rescued cell-autonomously by expressing wild-type Fra exclusively in these neurons. Furthermore, structure-function studies indicate that the conserved P3 motif (but not P1 or P2) is required for growth cone attraction at the Drosophila midline. Surprisingly, in contrast to vertebrate DCC, P3 does not mediate receptor self-association, and self-association is not sufficient to promote Fra-dependent attraction. We also show that in contrast to previous findings, the cytoplasmic domain of Fra is not required for axonal localization and that neuronal expression of a truncated Fra receptor lacking the entire cytoplasmic domain (Fra delta C) results in dose-dependent defects in commissural axon guidance. These findings represent the first systematic dissection of the cytoplasmic domains required for Fra-mediated axon attraction in the context of full-length receptors in an intact organism and provide important insights into attractive axon guidance at the midline.
Garbe, D. S., O’Donnell, M., & Bashaw, G. J. (2007). Cytoplasmic domain requirements for Frazzled-mediated attractive axon turning at the Drosophila midline. Development, 134(24), 4325–4334. https://doi.org/10.1242/dev.012872