Robo receptors interact with ligands of the Slit family. The nematode C. elegans has one Robo receptor (SAX-3) and one Slit protein (SLT-1), which direct ventral axon guidance and guidance at the midline. In larvae, slt-1 expression in dorsal muscles repels axons to promote ventral guidance. SLT-1 acts through the SAX-3 receptor, in parallel with the ventral attractant UNC-6 (Netrin). Removing both UNC-6 and SLT-1 eliminates all ventral guidance information for some axons, revealing an underlying longitudinal guidance pathway. In the embryo, slt-1 is expressed at high levels in anterior epidermis. Embryonic expression of SLT-1 provides anterior-posterior guidance information to migrating CAN neurons. Surprisingly, slt-1 mutants do not exhibit the nerve ring and epithelial defects of sax-3 mutants, suggesting that SAX-3 has both Slit-dependent and Slit-independent functions in development.
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