Spinal nerve segmentation in the chick embryo: analysis of distinct axon-repulsive systems

M M Vermeren, G M Cook, A R Johnson, R J Keynes, D Tannahill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

In higher vertebrates, the segmental organization of peripheral spinal nerves is established by a repulsive mechanism whereby sensory and motor axons are excluded from the posterior half-somite. A number of candidate axon repellents have been suggested to mediate this barrier to axon growth, including Sema3A, Ephrin-B, and peanut agglutinin (PNA)-binding proteins. We have tested the candidacy of these factors in vitro by examining their contribution to the growth cone collapse-inducing activity of somite-derived protein extracts on sensory, motor, and retinal axons. We find that Sema3A is unlikely to play a role in the segmentation of sensory or motor axons and that Ephrin-B may contribute to motor but not sensory axon segmentation. We also provide evidence that the only candidate molecule(s) that induces the growth cone collapse of both sensory and motor axons binds to PNA and is not Sema3A or Ephrin-B. By grafting primary sensory, motor, and quail retinal neurons into the chick trunk in vivo, we provide further evidence that the posterior half-somite represents a universal barrier to growing axons. Taken together, these results suggest that the mechanisms of peripheral nerve segmentation should be considered in terms of repellent molecules in addition to the identified molecules.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-52
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2000

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Animals
  • Axons
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chick Embryo
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Nervous System
  • Neurons


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