Axon-guidance by Slit-Roundabout (Robo) signaling at the midline initially guides growth cones to synaptic targets and positions longitudinal axon tracts in discrete bundles on either side of the midline. Following the formation of commissural tracts, Slit is found also in tracts of the commissures and longitudinal connectives, the purpose of which is not clear. The Slit protein is processed into a larger N-terminal peptide and a smaller C-terminal peptide. Here, I show that Slit and Slit-N in tracts interact with Robo to maintain the fasciculation, the inter-tract spacing between tracts and their position relative to the midline. Thus, in the absence of Slit in post-guidance tracts, tracts de-fasciculate, merge with one another and shift their position towards the midline. The Slit protein is proposed to function as a gradient. However, I show that Slit and Slit-N are not freely lpresent in the extracellular milieu but associated with the extracellular matrix (ECM) and both interact with Robo1. Slit-C is tightly associated with the ECM requiring collagenase treatment to release it, and it does not interact with Robo1. These results define a role for Slit and Slit-N in tracts for the maintenance and fasciculation of tracts, thus the maintenance of the hardwiring of the CNS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research