Semaphorins form a large, evolutionary conserved family of cellular guidance signals. The semaphorin family contains several secreted and transmembrane proteins, but only one GPI-anchored member, Semaphorin7A (Sema7A). Although originally identified in immune cells, as CDw108, Sema7A displays widespread expression outside the immune system. It is therefore not surprising that accumulating evidence supports roles for this protein in a wide variety of biological processes in different organ systems and in disease. Well-characterized biological effects of Sema7A include those during bone and immune cell regulation, neuron migration and neurite growth. These effects are mediated by two receptors, plexinC1 and integrins. However, most of what is known today about Sema7A signaling concerns Sema7A-integrin interactions. Here, we review our current knowledge of Sema7A function and signaling in different organ systems, highlighting commonalities between the cellular effects and signaling pathways activated by Sema7A in different cell types. Furthermore, we discuss a potential role for Sema7A in disease and provide directions for further research.
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