Plexins comprise a family of transmembrane proteins (the plexin family) which are expressed in nervous tissues. Some plexins have been shown to interact directly with secreted or transmembrane semaphorins, while plexins belonging to the A subfamily are suggested to make complexes with other membrane proteins, neuropilins, and propagate chemorepulsive signals of secreted semaphorins of class 3 into cells or neurons. Despite that much information has been gathered on the plexin-semaphorin interaction, the role of plexins in the nervous system is not well understood. To gain insight into the functions of plexins in the nervous system, we analyzed spatial and temporal expression patterns of three members of the plexin-A subfamily (plexin-A1, -A2, and -A3) in the developing mouse nervous system by in situ hybridization analysis in combination with immunohistochemistry. We show that the three plexins are differentially expressed in sensory receptors or neurons in a developmentally regulated manner, suggesting that a particular plexin or set of plexins is shared by neuronal elements and functions as the receptor for semaphorins to regulate neuronal development.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.