A crucial role for Arf6 in the response of commissural axons to Slit

Development. 2019 Feb 4;146(3):dev172106. doi: 10.1242/dev.172106.


A switch in the response of commissural axons to the repellent Slit is crucial for ensuring that they cross the ventral midline only once. However, the underlying mechanisms remain to be elucidated. We have found that both endocytosis and recycling of Robo1 receptor are crucial for modulating Slit sensitivity in vertebrate commissural axons. Robo1 endocytosis and its recycling back to the cell surface maintained the stability of axonal Robo1 during Slit stimulation. We identified Arf6 guanosine triphosphatase and its activators, cytohesins, as previously unknown components in Slit-Robo1 signalling in vertebrate commissural neurons. Slit-Robo1 signalling activated Arf6. The Arf6-deficient mice exhibited marked defects in commissural axon midline crossing. Our data showed that a Robo1 endocytosis-triggered and Arf6-mediated positive-feedback strengthens the Slit response in commissural axons upon their midline crossing. Furthermore, the cytohesin-Arf6 pathways modulated this self-enhancement of the Slit response before and after midline crossing, resulting in a switch that reinforced robust regulation of axon midline crossing. Our study provides insights into endocytic trafficking-mediated mechanisms for spatiotemporally controlled axonal responses and uncovers new players in the midline switch in Slit responsiveness of commissural axons.

Keywords: Arf6; Axon guidance; Commissural neurons; Endocytic recycling; Midline; Slit-Robo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ADP-Ribosylation Factor 6
  • ADP-Ribosylation Factors / genetics
  • ADP-Ribosylation Factors / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Endocytosis / physiology*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • ADP-Ribosylation Factor 6
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • roundabout protein
  • ADP-Ribosylation Factors
  • ARF6 protein, human
  • Arf6 protein, mouse