F-spondin is a contact-repellent molecule for embryonic motor neurons

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Apr 10;98(8):4722-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.081062398. Epub 2001 Apr 3.


The floor plate plays a key role in patterning axonal trajectory in the embryonic spinal cord by providing both long-range and local guidance cues that promote or inhibit axonal growth toward and across the ventral midline of the spinal cord, thus acting as an intermediate target for a number of crossing (commissural) and noncrossing (motor) axons. F-spondin, a secreted adhesion molecule expressed in the embryonic floor plate and the caudal somite of birds, plays a dual role in patterning the nervous system. It promotes adhesion and outgrowth of commissural axons and inhibits adhesion of neural crest cells. In the current study, we demonstrate that outgrowth of embryonic motor axons also is inhibited by F-spondin protein in a contact-repulsion fashion. Three independent lines of evidence support our hypothesis: substrate-attached F-spondin inhibits outgrowth of dissociated motor neurons in an outgrowth assay; F-spondin elicits acute growth cone collapse when applied to cultured motor neurons; and challenging ventral spinal cord explants with aggregates of HEK 293 cells expressing F-spondin, causes contact-repulsion of motor neurites. Structural-functional studies demonstrate that the processed carboxyl-half protein that contains the thrombospondin type 1 repeats is more prominent in inhibiting outgrowth, suggesting that the processing of F-spondin is important for enhancing its inhibitory activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology*
  • Growth Substances*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules / metabolism*
  • Peptides*
  • Rats


  • DNA Primers
  • Growth Substances
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Peptides
  • Spon1 protein, rat