The UNC-5 guidance receptor, in response to the UNC-6/netrin path cue, orients growing axons in a dorsal direction along the epidermis of Caenorhabditis elegans. When ectopically expressed in the touch neurons, which normally extend ventrally or longitudinally, UNC-5 is able to reorient their axons toward the dorsal side in an UNC-6-dependent manner. This forms the basis of a genetic screen to identify other mutations that, like unc-6 mutations, suppress unc-5-induced growth cone guidance. These mutations may identify new components required for pioneer axon guidance by unc-5. In this paper, we describe eight genes that are required for ectopic unc-5-induced growth cone steering. Mutations in four of these identify the previously known axon guidance genes unc-6, unc-40, unc-34, and unc-44 and mutations in four others identify the novel genes unc-129, seu-1, seu-2, and seu-3. Several of these mutations cause axon guidance defects similar to those found in unc-5 mutants. We propose that some or all of these genes may function in a developmentally important unc-5 signaling pathway.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press.