2009 Volume 55 Issue 1 Pages 1-6
During development, dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in higher vertebrates extend their axons centrally to the spinal cord through the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) and peripherally to muscle and skin targets. After entering the spinal cord, DRG axons project into the dorsal mantle layer. In this review, we focus on evidence showing the role for netrin-1 in forming sensory axonal trajectories. Netrin-1 is a diffusible axonal guidance molecule that chemorepels developing DRG axons. When DRG axons project toward the DREZ, ventral spinal cord-derived netrin-1 prevents DRG axons from projecting aberrantly toward the ventral spinal cord. At later stages, the dorsal spinal cord cells transiently express netrin-1. This dorsal spinal cord-derived netrin-1 prevents DRG axons from invading the dorsal spinal cord during the waiting period. Together, the data reviewed provide strong evidence that netrin-1 plays a crucial role in sensory axon projection during development.