Ten years ago nothing was known of the three-dimensional structure of members of the semaphorin family of cell guidance cues, nor of their major receptors, the plexins. The structural biology of this cell surface ligand-receptor system has now come of age. Detailed atomic level information is available on the architecture of semaphorin and plexin ectodomains and their recognition complexes. Similarly the structure of the plexin cytoplasmic region, and its interactions with members of the Rho family of small GTPases have been unveiled. These structural analyses, in combination with biochemical, biophysical and cellular studies, have progressed our understanding of this signalling system into the realm of molecular mechanism.
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