Distinct Protein Domains and Expression Patterns Confer Divergent Axon Guidance Functions for Drosophila Robo Receptors

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Abstract

The orthogonal array of axon pathways in the Drosophila CNS is constructed in part under the control of three Robo family axon guidance receptors: Robo1, Robo2 and Robo3. Each of these receptors is responsible for a distinct set of guidance decisions. To determine the molecular basis for these functional specializations, we used homologous recombination to create a series of 9 "robo swap" alleles: expressing each of the three Robo receptors from each of the three robo loci. We demonstrate that the lateral positioning of longitudinal axon pathways relies primarily on differences in gene regulation, not distinct combinations of Robo proteins as previously thought. In contrast, specific features of the Robo1 and Robo2 proteins contribute to their distinct functions in commissure formation. These specializations allow Robo1 to prevent crossing and Robo2 to promote crossing. These data demonstrate how diversification of expression and structure within a single family of guidance receptors can shape complex patterns of neuronal wiring. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Spitzweck, B., Brankatschk, M., & Dickson, B. J. (2010). Distinct Protein Domains and Expression Patterns Confer Divergent Axon Guidance Functions for Drosophila Robo Receptors. Cell, 140(3), 409–420. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2010.01.002

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