Neurolin (zf DM-GRASP), a transmembrane protein with five extracellular immunoglobulin domains, is expressed by secondary but not primary motoneurons during zebrafish development. The spatiotemporally restricted expression pattern suggests that Neurolin plays a role in motor axon growth and guidance. To test this hypothesis, we injected zebrafish embryos with function-blocking Neurolin antibodies. In injected embryos, secondary motor axons form a broadened bundle along the common path and ectopic branches leave the common path at right angles. Moreover, the formation of the ventral and the rostral projection of secondary motor axons is inhibited during the second day of development. Pathfinding errors, resulting in secondary motor axons growing through ectopic regions of the somites, occur along the common path and in the dorsal and rostral projection. Our data are compatible with the view that Neurolin is involved in the recognition of guidance cues and acts as a receptor on secondary motor axons. Consistent with this idea is the binding pattern of a soluble Neurolin-Fc construct showing that putative ligands are distributed along the common path, the ventral projection, and in the area where the rostral projection develops.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.