Barresi, M.J., Hutson, L.D., Chien, C.B., and Karlstrom, R.O. (2005) Hedgehog regulated Slit expression determines commissure and glial cell position in the zebrafish forebrain. Development (Cambridge, England). 132(16):3643-3656.
Three major axon pathways cross the midline of the vertebrate forebrain early in embryonic development: the postoptic commissure (POC), the anterior commissure (AC) and the optic nerve. We show that a small population of Gfap+ astroglia spans the midline of the zebrafish forebrain in the position of, and prior to, commissural and retinal axon crossing. These glial 'bridges' form in regions devoid of the guidance molecules slit2 and slit3, although a subset of these glial cells express slit1a. We show that Hh signaling is required for commissure formation, glial bridge formation, and the restricted expression of the guidance molecules slit1a, slit2, slit3 and sema3d, but that Hh does not appear to play a direct role in commissural and retinal axon guidance. Reducing Slit2 and/or Slit3 function expanded the glial bridges and caused defasciculation of the POC, consistent with a 'channeling' role for these repellent molecules. By contrast, reducing Slit1a function led to reduced midline axon crossing, suggesting a distinct role for Slit1a in midline axon guidance. Blocking Slit2 and Slit3, but not Slit1a, function in the Hh pathway mutant yot (gli2DR) dramatically rescued POC axon crossing and glial bridge formation at the midline, indicating that expanded Slit2 and Slit3 repellent function is largely responsible for the lack of midline crossing in these mutants. This analysis shows that Hh signaling helps to pattern the expression of Slit guidance molecules that then help to regulate glial cell position and axon guidance across the midline of the forebrain.