The mechanisms governing the navigation of commissural axons during embryonic development have been extensively investigated in the past years, often using the drosophila ventral nerve cord and the spinal cord as model systems. Similarities but also specificities in the general strategies, the molecular signals as well as in the regulatory pathways controlling the response of commissural axons to the guidance cues have been found between species. Whether the semaphorin signaling contributes to midline crossing in the fly nervous system remains unknown, while in contrast, it does play a prominent contribution in vertebrates. In this review we discuss the functions of the semaphorins during commissural axon guidance in the developing spinal cord, focusing on the family member semaphorin 3B (Sema3B) in the context of midline crossing in the spinal cord.
Keywords: axon guidance; commissural neurons; midline; semaphorins; spinal cord development.