Sim1a and Arnt2 contribute to hypothalamo-spinal axon guidance by regulating Robo2 activity via a Robo3-dependent mechanism

Schweitzer, J., Löhr, H., Bonkowsky, J.L., Hübscher, K., and Driever, W.
Development (Cambridge, England)   140(1): 93-106 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Bonkowsky, Joshua, Driever, Wolfgang, Löhr, Heiko, Schweitzer, Jörn
Robot/Slit signalling, Robo receptor isoforms, Dcc/Netrin signalling, dopaminergic neurons, neuroendocrine systems, hypocretinergic neurons, hypothalamo-spinal projections, orthopedia, zebrafish
MeSH Terms
  • Animals
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Nuclear Translocator/genetics
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Nuclear Translocator/physiology*
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors/genetics
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors/physiology*
  • Hypothalamus/embryology
  • Hypothalamus/physiology*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins/genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins/physiology
  • RNA Splicing/genetics
  • Receptors, Immunologic/antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Immunologic/genetics
  • Receptors, Immunologic/metabolism*
  • Receptors, Immunologic/physiology*
  • Repressor Proteins/genetics
  • Repressor Proteins/physiology*
  • Spinal Cord/embryology
  • Spinal Cord/physiology*
  • Zebrafish/embryology*
  • Zebrafish/genetics
  • Zebrafish Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Zebrafish Proteins/genetics
  • Zebrafish Proteins/metabolism*
  • Zebrafish Proteins/physiology*
23222439 Full text @ Development

Precise spatiotemporal control of axon guidance factor expression is a prerequisite for formation of functional neuronal connections. Although Netrin/Dcc- and Robo/Slit-mediated attractive and repulsive guidance of commissural axons have been extensively studied, little is known about mechanisms controlling mediolateral positioning of longitudinal axons in vertebrates. Here, we use a genetic approach in zebrafish embryos to study pathfinding mechanisms of dopaminergic and neuroendocrine longitudinal axons projecting from the hypothalamus into hindbrain and spinal cord. The transcription factors Sim1a and Arnt2 contribute to differentiation of a defined population of dopaminergic and neuroendocrine neurons. We show that both factors also control aspects of axon guidance: Sim1a or Arnt2 depletion results in displacement of hypothalamo-spinal longitudinal axons towards the midline. This phenotype is suppressed in robo3 guidance receptor mutant embryos. In the absence of Sim1a and Arnt2, expression of the robo3 splice isoform robo3a.1 is increased in the hypothalamus, indicating negative control of robo3a.1 transcription by these factors. We further provide evidence that increased Robo3a.1 levels interfere with Robo2-mediated repulsive axon guidance. Finally, we show that the N-terminal domain unique to Robo3a.1 mediates the block of Robo2 repulsive activity. Therefore, Sim1a and Arnt2 contribute to control of lateral positioning of longitudinal hypothalamic-spinal axons by negative regulation of robo3a.1 expression, which in turn attenuates the repulsive activity of Robo2.

Genes / Markers
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Mutations / Transgenics
Human Disease / Model
Sequence Targeting Reagents
Engineered Foreign Genes