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Sci. STKE, 12 February 2002
Vol. 2002, Issue 119, p. re1
Knowing How to Navigate: Mechanisms of Semaphorin Signaling in the Nervous System
Kevin C. Wang1,
Guoli Ming2, and
1Division of Neuroscience, Children's Hospital, and Program in Neuroscience, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. 2Department of Biology, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA. 3Molecular Neurobiology Laboratory, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.
Gloss: The nervous system is made of billions of neurons that are interconnected with astonishing precision. The reductionistic approach toward understanding this process of brain wiring is to understand how the navigation of individual axons and dendrites is determined. A key finding to emerge is that extracellular cues play decisive roles in establishing these connections. This review uses the semaphorin proteins, which were first identified as repellents for navigating axons, as an example to illustrate the principles we have learned in the molecular mechanisms of axon guidance and other processes of neuronal development.