To assemble the nervous system's functional circuits, the neuronal axonal growth cones must be precisely guided to their proper targets, which can be achieved through cell-surface guidance receptor activation by ligand binding in the periphery. We investigated the function of paxillin, a focal adhesion protein, as an essential growth cone guidance intermediary in the context of spinal lateral motor column (LMC) motor axon trajectory selection in the limb mesenchyme. Using in situ mRNA detection, we first show paxillin expression in LMC neurons of chick and mouse embryos at the time of spinal motor axon extension into the limb. Paxillin loss- and gain-of-function using in-ovo electroporation in chick LMC neurons, of either sex, perturbed LMC axon trajectory selection demonstrating an essential role of paxillin in motor axon guidance. In addition, a neuron-specific paxillin deletion in mice led to LMC axon trajectory selection errors. We also show that knocking down paxillin attenuates the growth preference of LMC neurites against ephrins in vitro, and Eph-mediated retargeting of LMC axons in vivo, suggesting paxillin involvement in Eph-mediated LMC motor axon guidance. Finally, both paxillin knockdown and ectopic expression of a non-phosphorylable paxillin mutant attenuated the retargeting of LMC axons caused by Src overexpression, implicating paxillin as a Src target in Eph signal relay in this context. In summary, our findings demonstrate that paxillin is required for motor axon guidance and suggest its essential role in the ephrin:Eph signaling pathway resulting in motor axon trajectory selection.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTDuring the development of neural circuits, precise connections need to be established among neurons or between neurons and their muscle targets. A protein family found in neurons, Ephs, is essential at different stages of neural circuit formation including nerve outgrowth and pathfinding, and is proposed to mediate the onset and progression of several neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease. To investigate how Ephs relay their signals to mediate nerve growth, we investigated the function of a molecule called paxillin, and found it important for the development of spinal nerve growth toward their muscle targets, suggesting its role as an effector of Eph signals. Our work could thus provide new information on how neuromuscular connectivity is properly established during embryonic development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- 神經科學 (全部)