Slit2, a Branching-Arborization Factor for Sensory Axons in the Mammalian CNS

P. Hande Özdinler, Reha S. Erzurumlu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Axons that carry information from the sensory periphery first elongate unbranched and form precisely ordered tracts within the CNS. Later, they begin collateralizing into their proper targets and form terminal arbors. Target-derived factors that govern sensory axon elongation and branching-arborization are not well understood. Here we report that Slit2 is a major player in branching-arborization of central trigeminal axons in the brainstem. Embryonic trigeminal axons initially develop unbranched as they form the trigeminal tract within the lateral brainstem; later, they emit collateral branches into the brainstem trigeminal nuclei and form terminal arbors therein. In whole-mount explant cultures of this pathway, embryonic day 15 (E15) rat central trigeminal axons retain their unbranched growth within the tract, whereas E17 trigeminal axons show branching and arborization in the brainstem trigeminal nuclei, much like that seen in vivo. Similar observations were made in E13 and E15 mouse embryos. We cocultured Slit2-expressing tissues or cells with the whole-mount explant cultures of the central trigeminal pathway derived from embryonic rats or mice. When central trigeminal axons are exposed to ectopic Slit2 during their elongation phase, they show robust and premature branching and arborization. Blocking available Slit2 reverses this effect on axon growth. Spatiotemporal expression of Slit2 and Robo receptor mRNAs within the brainstem trigeminal nuclei and the trigeminal ganglion during elongation and branching-arborization further corroborates our experimental results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4540-4549
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2002


  • Axon arborization
  • Axon branching
  • Choroid plexus
  • Explant cocultures
  • Robos
  • Slits
  • Trigeminal ganglion
  • Trigeminal system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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