The extracellular matrix proteoglycan perlecan facilitates transmembrane semaphorin-mediated repulsive guidance

Joong Youn Cho, Kayam Chak, Benjamin J. Andreone, Joseph R. Wooley, Alex L. Kolodkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The Drosophila transmembrane semaphorin-1a (Sema-1a) is a repulsive guidance cue that uses the Plexin A (PlexA) receptor during neural development. Sema-1a is required in axons to facilitate motor axon defasciculation at guidance choice points. We found that mutations in the trol gene strongly suppress Sema-1a-mediated repulsive axon guidance. trol encodes the phylogenetically conserved secreted heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) perlecan, a component of the extracellular matrix. Motor axon guidance defects in perlecan mutants resemble those observed in Sema-1a- and PlexA-null mutant embryos, and perlecan mutants genetically interact with PlexA and Sema-1a. Perlecan protein is found in both the CNS and the periphery, with higher expression levels in close proximity to motor axon trajectories and pathway choice points. Restoring perlecan to mutant motor neurons rescues perlecan axon guidance defects. Perlecan augments the reduction in phospho-focal adhesion kinase (phospho-FAK) levels that result from treating insect cells in vitro with Sema-1a, and genetic interactions among integrin, Sema-1a, and FAK in vivo support an antagonistic relationship between Sema-1a and integrin signaling. Therefore, perlecan is required for Sema-1a-PlexA-mediated repulsive guidance, revealing roles for extracellular matrix proteoglycans in modulating transmembrane guidance cue signaling during neural development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2222-2235
Number of pages14
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012


  • Axon guidance
  • Drosophila
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Perlecan
  • Proteoglycan
  • Semaphorin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology

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