Signaling of Secreted Semaphorins in Growth Cone Steering

  • Sangwoo Shim
  • Guo-li Ming
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 600)


Secreted semaphorins [class 3 semaphorins (3A-3F) in vertebrates and class 2 in invertebrates] play essential roles in the establishment of neuronal circuitry by mediating axon steering and fasciculation during development of the nervous system1, 2, 3 Semaphorin 3A (Sema3A) was the first secreted form of semaphorins purified from adult chick brains and characterized as a chemorepellant with the ability to induce rapid collapse or repulsion of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) growth cones in vitro and to repel populations of neurons in vivo4, 5, 6, 7, 8 In the grasshopper, a graded distribution of Sema-2a has been shown to be essential in guiding the tibial (Ti1) pioneer neurons in the developing limb9. Like other families of guidance cues, such as netrins and ephrins, semaphorins function not only as repellents but also as attractants to neuronal growth cones, depending on the composition of receptors and signaling cascades presented in the cells. Sema3C, for example, can act as a chemoattractant to embryonic cortical axons10. Sema3B has recently been shown to attract and repel commissural axons in vitro and is critical for the positioning of anterior commissural projection11. In a slice overlay assay, Sema3A was shown to attract the dendritic growth cones of cortical neurons12 while repelling the axonal growth cones of the same neurons13. The molecular and modulating growth cone steering responses to class 3 semaphorins have been best characterized within the semaphorin family both in vitro and in vivo, and are the main focus of this chapter. Interested readers can consult other chapters of the book and several other comprehensive reviews on semaphorins and their signaling3,14, 15, 16


Dorsal Root Ganglion Lipid Raft Growth Cone Commissural Axon Growth Cone Collapse 


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Copyright information

© Landes Bioscience and Springer Science+Business Media 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sangwoo Shim
  • Guo-li Ming
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Cell Engineering, Departments of Neurology and NeuroscienceJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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