Background: Axon migrations are guided by extracellular cues that can act as repellants or attractants. However, the logic underlying the manner through which attractive and repulsive responses are determined is unclear. Many extracellular guidance cues, and the cellular components that mediate their signals, have been implicated in both types of responses.
Results: Genetic analyses indicate that MIG-10/RIAM/lamellipodin, a cytoplasmic adaptor protein, functions downstream of the attractive guidance cue UNC-6/netrin and the repulsive guidance cue SLT-1/slit to direct the ventral migration of the AVM and PVM axons in C. elegans. Furthermore, overexpression of MIG-10 in the absence of UNC-6 and SLT-1 induces a multipolar phenotype with undirected outgrowths. Addition of either UNC-6 or SLT-1 causes the neurons to become monopolar. Moreover, the ability of UNC-6 or SLT-1 to direct the axon ventrally is enhanced by the MIG-10 overexpression. We also demonstrate that an interaction between MIG-10 and UNC-34, a protein that promotes actin-filament extension, is important in the response to guidance cues and that MIG-10 colocalizes with actin in cultured cells, where it can induce the formation of lamellipodia.
Conclusions: We conclude that MIG-10 mediates the guidance of AVM and PVM axons in response to the extracellular UNC-6 and SLT-1 guidance cues. The attractive and repulsive guidance cues orient MIG-10-dependant axon outgrowth to cause a directional response.