Embryonic axon guidance: insights from Drosophila and other insects

Curr Opin Insect Sci. 2016 Dec;18:11-16. doi: 10.1016/j.cois.2016.08.007. Epub 2016 Aug 24.


During embryonic development, growing axons are guided by cellular signaling pathways that control a series of individual axon guidance decisions. In Drosophila, two major pathways (Netrin-Frazzled/DCC and Slit-Robo) regulate axon guidance in the embryonic ventral nerve cord, including the critical decision of whether or not to cross the midline. Studies in the fruit fly have revealed a complex picture of precise regulation and cross-talk between these pathways. In addition, Robo receptors in Drosophila have diversified their activities to regulate additional axon guidance decisions in the developing embryo. Here, I discuss recent advances in understanding roles and regulation of the Net-Fra and Slit-Robo signaling pathways in Drosophila, and examine the evolutionary conservation of these signaling mechanisms across insects and other arthropods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axon Guidance / physiology
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Drosophila / embryology
  • Drosophila Proteins / metabolism*
  • Insecta / embryology*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Netrin Receptors / metabolism
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Netrin Receptors
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Repressor Proteins
  • fra protein, Drosophila
  • net protein, Drosophila
  • roundabout protein
  • sli protein, Drosophila