Structural insights into the formation of repulsive netrin guidance complexes.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Sci Adv, Volume 10, Issue 7, p.eadj8083 (2024)


Animals, Axons, Caenorhabditis elegans, Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins, Cell Adhesion Molecules, Heparin, Nerve Tissue Proteins, Netrins, Receptors, Cell Surface


<p>Netrins dictate attractive and repulsive responses during axon growth and cell migration, where the presence of the receptor Uncoordinated-5 (UNC-5) on target cells results in repulsion. Here, we showed that UNC-5 is a heparin-binding protein, determined its structure bound to a heparin fragment, and could modulate UNC-5-heparin affinity using a directed evolution platform or structure-based rational design. We demonstrated that UNC-5 and UNC-6/netrin form a large, stable, and rigid complex in the presence of heparin, and heparin and UNC-5 exclude the attractive UNC-40/DCC receptor from binding to UNC-6/netrin to a large extent. with a heparin-binding-deficient UNC-5 fail to establish proper gonad morphology due to abrogated cell migration, which relies on repulsive UNC-5 signaling in response to UNC-6. Combining UNC-5 mutations targeting heparin and UNC-6/netrin contacts results in complete cell migration and axon guidance defects. Our findings establish repulsive netrin responses to be mediated through a glycosaminoglycan-regulated macromolecular complex.</p>