Plexin-A3 and plexin-A4 restrict the migration of sympathetic neurons but not their neural crest precursors

Kathryn E. Waimey, Pei Hsin Huang, Maggie Chen, Hwai-Jong Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


During development, the semaphorin family of guidance molecules is required for proper formation of the sympathetic nervous system. Plexins are receptors that mediate semaphorin signaling, but how plexins function during sympathetic development is not fully understood. Using phenotypic analyses of mutant mice in vivo, expression pattern studies, and in vitro assays, we show that plexin-A3 and plexin-A4 are essential for normal sympathetic development. This study confirms our previous in vitro findings that the two plexins differentially regulate the guidance of sympathetic axons. In addition, we find that semaphorin signaling through plexin-A3 and plexin-A4 restricts the migration of sympathetic neurons, but these two plexins function redundantly since migration defects are only observed in plexin-A3/-A4 double mutants. Surprisingly, our analysis also indicates that plexin-A3 and plexin-A4 are not required for guiding neural crest precursors prior to reaching the sympathetic anlagen. Immunoprecipitation studies suggest that these two plexins independently mediate secreted semaphorin signaling. Thus, plexin-A3 and plexin-A4 are expressed in newly-differentiated sympathetic neurons, but not their neural crest precursors. They function cooperatively to regulate the migration of sympathetic neurons and then differentially to guide the sympathetic axons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)448-458
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2008


  • Axon guidance
  • Neural crest
  • Neuron migration
  • Plexin
  • Semaphorin
  • Sympathetic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


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