Distinct roles for Robo2 in the regulation of axon and dendrite growth by retinal ganglion cells

Jennifer C. Hocking, Carrie L. Hehr, Gabriel E. Bertolesi, Jane Y. Wu, Sarah McFarlane*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Guidance factors act on the tip of a growing axon to direct it to its target. What role these molecules play, however, in the control of the dendrites that extend from that axon's cell body is poorly understood. Slits, through their Robo receptors, guide many types of axons, including those of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Here we assess and contrast the role of Slit/Robo signalling in the growth and guidance of the axon and dendrites extended by RGCs in Xenopus laevis. As Xenopus RGCs extend dendrites, they express robo2 and robo3, while slit1 and slit2 are expressed in RGCs and in the adjacent inner nuclear layer. Interestingly, our functional data with antisense knockdown and dominant negative forms of Robo2 (dnRobo2) and Robo3 (dnRobo3) indicate that Slit/Robo signalling has no role in RGC dendrite guidance, and instead is necessary to stimulate dendrite branching, primarily via Robo2. Our in vitro culture data argue that Slits are the ligands involved. In contrast, both dnRobo2 and dnRobo3 inhibited the extension of axons and caused the misrouting of some axons. Based on these data, we propose that Robo signalling can have distinct functions in the axon and dendrites of the same cell, and that the specific combinations of Robo receptors could underlie these differences. Slit acts via Robo2 in dendrites as a branching/growth factor but not in guidance, while Robo2 and Robo3 function in concert in axons to mediate axonal interactions and respond to Slits as guidance factors. These data underscore the likelihood that a limited number of extrinsic factors regulate the distinct morphologies of axons and dendrites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-48
Number of pages13
JournalMechanisms of Development
Volume127
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2010

Keywords

  • Axon guidance
  • Dendrite branching
  • Growth cone
  • Retina
  • Robo3
  • Slit proteins
  • Xenopus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Embryology
  • Developmental Biology

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