Homeostatic chemokine CXCL12 (also known as SDF-1) and its receptor CXCR4 are indispensable for the normal development of the nervous system. This chemokine system plays a plethora of functions in numerous neural developmental processes, from which the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms are beginning to be unravelled. Recent identification of CXCR7 as a second receptor for CXCL12 provides opportunities to gain deeper insights into how CXCL12 operates in the nervous system. Here, we review the diverse roles of CXCL12 in the developing central nervous system, summarize the recent progress in uncovering CXCR7 functions, and discuss the emerging common themes from these works and future perspectives.
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.