The molecular mechanisms that control dendritic development are still unclear. Semaphorin 3A, a class III semaphorin, has been shown to regulate the radial orientation of pyramidal neurons in the developing neocortex. Here, we investigate the effects of Sema3A on the development of dendritic topology. Neocortical slices from Sema3A null mutant mice were cultured and neurons were transfected with GFP, reconstructed, and compared with neurons from wild-type and heterozygote littermates. We also added exogenous Sema3A to cultured wild-type neocortical slices to further test its effects on dendritic development. We document reductions in dendritic length and branching in Sema3A null mice and increases in dendritic length and branching after the addition of exogenous Sema3A to wild-type neurons. We conclude that Sema3A is necessary for the elaboration of second and third order dendritic branches in pyramidal neurons.
Copyright 2003 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Neurobiol 58: 403-412, 2004