Developmental and adult expression of semaphorin 2a in the cricket Gryllus bimaculatus

Kristen R. Maynard, Sarah S. McCarthy, Elizabeth Sheldon, Hadley Wilson Horch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developmental guidance cues act to direct growth cones to their correct targets in the nervous system. Recent experiments also demonstrate that developmental cues are expressed in the adult mammalian nervous system, although their function in the brain is not yet clear. The semaphorin gene family has been implicated in the growth of dendrites and axons in a number of different species. While the expression of semaphorin and its influence on tibial pioneer neurons in the developing limb bud have been well characterized in the grasshopper, the expression of semaphorin 2a (sema2a) has not been explored in the adult insect. In this study we used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with degenerate and gene-specific primers to clone part of the secreted form of sema2a from Gryllus bimaculatus. Using in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, we confirmed that sema2a mRNA and protein expression patterns in the embryonic cricket were similar to that seen in the grasshopper. We also showed that tibial neuron development in crickets was comparable to that described in grasshopper. An examination of both developing and adult cricket brains showed that sema2a mRNA and protein were expressed in the Kenyon cells in mushroom bodies, an area involved in learning and memory. Sema2a expression was most obvious near the apex of the mushroom body in a region surrounding the neurogenic tip, which produces neurons throughout the life of the cricket. We discuss the role of neurogenesis in learning and memory and the potential involvement of semaphorin in this process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-181
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Axon guidance
  • Limb bud
  • Mushroom body
  • Tibial pioneer neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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