Semaphorin-1 and netrin signal in parallel and permissively to position the male ray 1 sensillum in Caenorhabditis elegans.
ABSTRACT: Netrin and semaphorin axon guidance cues have been found to function in the genesis of several mammalian organs; however, little is known about the underlying molecular mechanisms involved. A genetic approach could help to reveal the underpinnings of these mechanisms. The most anterior ray sensillum (ray 1) in the Caenorhabditis elegans male tail is frequently displaced anterior to its normal position in smp-1/semaphorin-1a and plexin-1/plx-1 mutants. Here we report that UNC-6/netrin and its UNC-40/DCC receptor signal in parallel to SMP-1/semaphorin-1a and its PLX-1/plexin-1 receptor to prevent the anterior displacement of ray 1 and that UNC-6 plus SMP-1 signaling can account entirely for this function. We also report that mab-20/semaphorin-2a mutations, which prevent the separation of neighboring rays and cause ray fusions, suppress the anterior displacements of ray 1 caused by deficiencies in SMP-1 and UNC-6 signaling and this is independent of the ray fusion phenotype, whereas overexpression of UNC-40 and PLX-1 cause ray fusions. This suggests that for ray 1 positioning, a balance is struck between a tendency of SMP-1 and UNC-6 signaling to prevent ray 1 from moving away from ray 2 and a tendency of MAB-20/semaphorin-2a signaling to separate all rays from each other. Additional evidence suggests this balance involves the relative adhesion of the ray 1 structural cell to neighboring SET and hyp 7 hypodermal cells. This finding raises the possibility that changes in ray 1 positioning depend on passive movements caused by attachment to the elongating SET cell in opposition to the morphologically more stable hyp 7 cell. Several lines of evidence indicate that SMP-1 and UNC-6 function permissively in the context of ray 1 positioning.
Project description:VIDEO ABSTRACT:Cellular interactions between neighboring axons are essential for global topographic map formation. Here we show that axonal interactions also precisely instruct the location of synapses. Motoneurons form en passant synapses in Caenorhabditis elegans. Although axons from the same neuron class significantly overlap, each neuron innervates a unique and tiled segment of the muscle field by restricting its synapses to a distinct subaxonal domain-a phenomenon we term synaptic tiling. Using DA8 and DA9 motoneurons, we found that the synaptic tiling requires the PlexinA4 homolog, PLX-1, and two transmembrane semaphorins. In the plexin or semaphorin mutants, synaptic domains from both neurons expand and overlap with each other without guidance defects. In a semaphorin-dependent manner, PLX-1 is concentrated at the synapse-free axonal segment, delineating the tiling border. Furthermore, plexin inhibits presynapse formation by suppressing synaptic F-actin through its cytoplasmic GTPase-activating protein (GAP) domain. Hence, contact-dependent, intra-axonal plexin signaling specifies synaptic circuits by inhibiting synapse formation at the subcellular loci.
Project description:In the last stage of the Caenorhabditis elegans body wall closure, an open pocket in the epidermis is closed by the migration of marginal epidermal P/pocket cells to the ventral midline. The cellular and molecular mechanisms of this closure remain unknown.Cells within the pocket align to form a bridge for migration of contralateral P cell pair P9/10 L,R (and neighboring P cells) to the midline. Bridge formation involves rearrangement of five sister pairs of PLX-2/plexin and VAB-1/Eph receptor expressing "plexin band" cells, of which three pairs form a scaffold for bridge assembly and two pairs form the bridge. Bridge formation requires VAB-1 kinase-dependent extension of presumptive bridge cells over scaffold cells toward the ventral midline. An unassembled vab-1 null mutant bridge obstructs P cell migration, which is largely overcome by plexin band expression of VAB-1 or VAB-1(delC) (a kinase deletion of VAB-1). VAB-1 also functions redundantly with MAB-20/semaphorin to prevent perdurant gaps between sister plexin band cells that block P cell migration.The Eph receptor mediates cellular extensions required for bridge formation, independently facilitates P cell migration to the midline, and functions redundantly with PLX-2/plexin to prevent gaps in the bridge used for P9/10 cell migration in body wall closure.
Project description:The L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM) participates in neuronal development. Mutations in the human L1 gene can cause the neurological disorder CRASH (corpus callosum hypoplasia, retardation, adducted thumbs, spastic paraplegia, and hydrocephalus). This study presents genetic data that shows that L1-like adhesion gene 2 (LAD-2), a Caenorhabditis elegans L1CAM, functions in axon pathfinding. In the SDQL neuron, LAD-2 mediates dorsal axon guidance via the secreted MAB-20/Sema2 and PLX-2 plexin receptor, the functions of which have largely been characterized in epidermal morphogenesis. We use targeted misexpression experiments to provide in vivo evidence that MAB-20/Sema2 acts as a repellent to SDQL. Coimmunoprecipitation assays reveal that MAB-20 weakly interacts with PLX-2; this interaction is increased in the presence of LAD-2, which can interact independently with MAB-20 and PLX-2. These results suggest that LAD-2 functions as a MAB-20 coreceptor to secure MAB-20 coupling to PLX-2. In vertebrates, L1 binds neuropilin1, the obligate receptor to the secreted Sema3A. However, invertebrates lack neuropilins. LAD-2 may thus function in the semaphorin complex by combining the roles of neuropilins and L1CAMs.
Project description:The cell-to-cell signalling mechanisms of multi-cellular organisms orchestrate human development during embryogenesis and control homeostasis in adult tissues. These are mechanisms vital to human health and perturbation of cell-to-cell signalling is a contributing factor in many pathologies including cancer. The semaphorin cell guidance cues and their cognate plexin receptors exemplify a cell-to-cell signalling system for which insights into mechanistic principles are emerging. X-ray crystallographic data from Diamond beam lines have enabled us to probe the inner workings of semaphorin-plexin signalling to atomic-level resolutions. Importantly, we can complement protein crystallographic results with biophysical and cellular studies to dovetail structural information with functional impact. The signature seven-bladed ? propeller 'sema' domain of the semaphorins forms a dimer; in contrast the equivalent domain in the plexins is monomeric. The generic architecture of a semaphorin-plexin complex is characterized by the dimeric semaphorin cross-linking two copies of the plexin receptor. For specific family members, the co-receptor neuropilin serves to bolster this architecture, but in all cases, the dimeric interaction lies at the core of the ligand receptor complex, providing the essential trigger for signalling.
Project description:Commissural axons must cross the midline to form functional midline circuits. In the invertebrate nerve cord and vertebrate spinal cord, midline crossing is mediated in part by Netrin-dependent chemoattraction. Loss of crossing, however, is incomplete in mutants for Netrin or its receptor Frazzled/DCC, suggesting the existence of additional pathways. We identified the transmembrane Semaphorin, Sema-1a, as an important regulator of midline crossing in the Drosophila CNS. We show that in response to the secreted Semaphorins Sema-2a and Sema-2b, Sema-1a functions as a receptor to promote crossing independently of Netrin. In contrast to other examples of reverse signaling where Sema1a triggers repulsion through activation of Rho in response to Plexin binding, in commissural neurons Sema-1a acts independently of Plexins to inhibit Rho to promote attraction to the midline. These findings suggest that Sema-1a reverse signaling can elicit distinct axonal responses depending on differential engagement of distinct ligands and signaling effectors.
Project description:UNCoordinated-6 (UNC-6) was the first member of the netrin family to be discovered in Caenorhabditis elegans. With homology to human netrin-1, it is a key signaling molecule involved in directing axon migration in nematodes. Similar to netrin-1, UNC-6 interacts with multiple receptors (UNC-5 and UNC-40, specifically) to guide axon migration in development. As a result of the distinct evolutionary path of UNC-6 compared to vertebrate netrins, we decided to employ an integrated approach to study its solution behavior and compare it to the high-resolution structure we previously published on vertebrate netrins. Dynamic light scattering and analytical ultracentrifugation on UNC-6 (with and without its C-domain) solubilized in a low-ionic strength buffer suggested that UNC-6 forms high-order oligomers. An increase in the buffer ionic strength resulted in a more homogeneous preparation of UNC-6, that was used for subsequent solution x-ray scattering experiments. Our biophysical analysis of UNC-6 ?C solubilized in a high-ionic strength buffer suggested that it maintains a similar head-to-stalk arrangement as netrins -1 and -4. This phenomenon is thought to play a role in the signaling behavior of UNC-6 and its ability to move throughout the extracellular matrix.
Project description:Cell-cell signalling of semaphorin ligands through interaction with plexin receptors is important for the homeostasis and morphogenesis of many tissues and is widely studied for its role in neural connectivity, cancer, cell migration and immune responses. SEMA4D and Sema6A exemplify two diverse vertebrate, membrane-spanning semaphorin classes (4 and 6) that are capable of direct signalling through members of the two largest plexin classes, B and A, respectively. In the absence of any structural information on the plexin ectodomain or its interaction with semaphorins the extracellular specificity and mechanism controlling plexin signalling has remained unresolved. Here we present crystal structures of cognate complexes of the semaphorin-binding regions of plexins B1 and A2 with semaphorin ectodomains (human PLXNB1(1-2)-SEMA4D(ecto) and murine PlxnA2(1-4)-Sema6A(ecto)), plus unliganded structures of PlxnA2(1-4) and Sema6A(ecto). These structures, together with biophysical and cellular assays of wild-type and mutant proteins, reveal that semaphorin dimers independently bind two plexin molecules and that signalling is critically dependent on the avidity of the resulting bivalent 2:2 complex (monomeric semaphorin binds plexin but fails to trigger signalling). In combination, our data favour a cell-cell signalling mechanism involving semaphorin-stabilized plexin dimerization, possibly followed by clustering, which is consistent with previous functional data. Furthermore, the shared generic architecture of the complexes, formed through conserved contacts of the amino-terminal seven-bladed ?-propeller (sema) domains of both semaphorin and plexin, suggests that a common mode of interaction triggers all semaphorin-plexin based signalling, while distinct insertions within or between blades of the sema domains determine binding specificity.
Project description:In developing neurons, somal migration and initiation of axon outgrowth often occur simultaneously and are regulated in part by similar classes of molecules. When neurons reach their final destinations, however, somal translocation and axon extension are uncoupled. Insights into the mechanisms underlying this process of disengagement came from our study of the behaviour of embryonic spinal motor neurons following ablation of boundary cap cells. These are neural crest derivatives that transiently reside at motor exit points, central nervous system (CNS):peripheral nervous system (PNS) interfaces where motor axons leave the CNS. In the absence of boundary cap cells, motor neuron cell bodies migrate along their axons into the periphery, suggesting that repellent signals from boundary cap cells regulate the selective gating of somal migration and axon outgrowth at the motor exit point. Here we used RNA interference in the chick embryo together with analysis of null mutant mice to identify possible boundary cap cell ligands, their receptors on motor neurons and cytoplasmic signalling molecules that control this process.We demonstrate that targeted knock down in motor neurons of Neuropilin-2 (Npn-2), a high affinity receptor for class 3 semaphorins, causes their somata to migrate to ectopic positions in ventral nerve roots. This finding was corroborated in Npn-2 null mice, in which we identified motor neuron cell bodies in ectopic positions in the PNS. Our RNA interference studies further revealed a role for Plexin-A2, but not Plexin-A1 or Plexin-A4. We show that chick and mouse boundary cap cells express Sema3B and 3G, secreted semaphorins, and Sema6A, a transmembrane semaphorin. However, no increased numbers of ectopic motor neurons are found in Sema3B null mouse embryos. In contrast, Sema6A null mice display an ectopic motor neuron phenotype. Finally, knockdown of MICAL3, a downstream semaphorin/Plexin-A signalling molecule, in chick motor neurons led to their ectopic positioning in the PNS.We conclude that semaphorin-mediated repellent interactions between boundary cap cells and immature spinal motor neurons regulates somal positioning by countering the drag exerted on motor neuron cell bodies by their axons as they emerge from the CNS at motor exit points. Our data support a model in which BC cell semaphorins signal through Npn-2 and/or Plexin-A2 receptors on motor neurons via a cytoplasmic effector, MICAL3, to trigger cytoskeletal reorganisation. This leads to the disengagement of somal migration from axon extension and the confinement of motor neuron cell bodies to the spinal cord.
Project description:Semaphorin molecules serve as axon guidance signals that regulate the navigation of neuronal growth cones. Semaphorins have also been implicated in other biological processes, including the immune response. Plexins, acting either alone or in complex with neuropilins, have recently been identified as functional semaphorin receptors. However, the mechanisms of signal transduction by plexins remain largely unknown. We have demonstrated a direct interaction between plexin-B1 and activated Rac. Rac specifically interacts with the cytosolic domain of plexin-B1, but not with that of plexin-A3 or -C1. Neither RhoA nor Cdc42 interacts with plexin-B1, indicating that the Rac/plexin-B1 interaction is highly specific. The binding of GTP and the integrity of the Rac effector domain are required for the interaction with plexin-B1. Furthermore, we have identified that a Cdc42/Rac interactive binding (CRIB) motif in the cytosolic domain of plexin-B1 is essential for its interaction with active Rac. We have also observed that the semaphorin CD100, a ligand for plexin-B1, stimulates the interaction between plexin-B1 and active Rac. Our results support a model by which activated Rac plays a role in mediating semaphorin signals, resulting in reorganization of actin cytoskeletal structure.
Project description:miR-125 microRNAs, such as lin-4 in Caenorhabditis elegans, were among the first microRNAs discovered, are phylogenetically conserved, and have been implicated in regulating developmental timing. Here, we showed that loss-of-function mutations in lin-4 microRNA increased axon attraction mediated by the netrin homolog UNC-6. The absence of lin-4 microRNA suppressed the axon guidance defects of anterior ventral microtubule (AVM) neurons caused by loss-of-function mutations in slt-1, which encodes a repulsive guidance cue. Selective expression of lin-4 microRNA in AVM neurons of lin-4-null animals indicated that the effect of lin-4 on AVM axon guidance was cell-autonomous. Promoter reporter analysis suggested that lin-4 was likely expressed strongly in AVM neurons during the developmental time frame that the axons are guided to their targets. In contrast, the lin-4 reporter was barely detectable in anterior lateral microtubule (ALM) neurons, axon guidance of which is insensitive to netrin. In AVM neurons, the transcription factor LIN-14, a target of lin-4 microRNA, stimulated UNC-6-mediated ventral guidance of the AVM axon. LIN-14 promoted attraction of the AVM axon through the UNC-6 receptor UNC-40 [the worm homolog of vertebrate Deleted in Colorectal Cancer (DCC)] and its cofactor MADD-2, which signals through both the UNC-34 (Ena) and the CED-10 (Rac1) downstream pathways. LIN-14 stimulated UNC-6-mediated axon attraction in part by increasing UNC-40 abundance. Our study indicated that lin-4 microRNA reduced the activity of LIN-14 to terminate UNC-6-mediated axon guidance of AVM neurons.