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Science 289 (5483): 1365-1367

Copyright © 2000 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Function of an Axonal Chemoattractant Modulated by Metalloprotease Activity

Michael J. Galko, Marc Tessier-Lavigne*

The axonal chemoattractant netrin-1 guides spinal commissural axons by activating its receptor DCC (Deleted in Colorectal Cancer). We have found that chemical inhibitors of metalloproteases potentiate netrin-mediated axon outgrowth in vitro. We have also found that DCC is a substrate for metalloprotease-dependent ectodomain shedding, and that the inhibitors block proteolytic processing of DCC and cause an increase in DCC protein levels on axons within spinal cord explants. Thus, potentiation of netrin activity by inhibitors may result from stabilization of DCC on the axons, and proteolytic activity may regulate axon migration by controlling the number of functional extracellular axon guidance receptors.

Department of Anatomy, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
*   To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: marctl{at}

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