Semaphorins and Plexins form ligand/receptor pairs that are crucial for a wide range of developmental processes from cell proliferation to axon guidance. The ability of semaphorins to act both as signaling receptors and ligands yields a multitude of responses. Here, we describe a novel role for Semaphorin-6D (Sema6D) and Plexin-A1 in the positioning and targeting of retinogeniculate axons. In Plexin-A1 or Sema6D mutant mice of either sex, the optic tract courses through, rather than along, the border of the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN), and some retinal axons ectopically arborize adjacent and lateral to the optic tract rather than defasciculating and entering the target region. We find that Sema6D and Plexin-A1 act together in a dose-dependent manner, as the number of the ectopic retinal projections is altered in proportion to the level of Sema6D or Plexin-A1 expression. Moreover, using retinal in utero electroporation of Sema6D or Plexin-A1 shRNA, we show that Sema6D and Plexin-A1 are both required in retinal ganglion cells for axon positioning and targeting. Strikingly, nonelectroporated retinal ganglion cell axons also mistarget in the tract region, indicating that Sema6D and Plexin-A1 can act non–cell-autonomously, potentially through axon–axon interactions. These data provide novel evidence for a dose-dependent and non–cell-autonomous role for Sema6D and Plexin-A1 in retinal axon organization in the optic tract and dLGN.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Before innervating their central brain targets, retinal ganglion cell axons fasciculate in the optic tract and then branch and arborize in their target areas. Upon deletion of the guidance molecules Plexin-A1 or Semaphorin-6D, the optic tract becomes disorganized near and extends within the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus. In addition, some retinal axons form ectopic aggregates within the defasciculated tract. Sema6D and Plexin-A1 act together as a receptor-ligand pair in a dose-dependent manner, and non–cell-autonomously, to produce this developmental aberration. Such a phenotype highlights an underappreciated role for axon guidance molecules in tract cohesion and appropriate defasciculation near, and arborization within, targets.

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This post is Copyright: Prieur, D. S., Francius, C., Gaspar, P., Mason, C. A., Rebsam, A. | August 10, 2023
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