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Boc is a receptor for sonic hedgehog in the guidance of commissural axons

Naturevolume 444pages369373 (2006) | Download Citation



In the spinal cord, sonic hedgehog (Shh) is secreted by the floor plate to control the generation of distinct classes of ventral neurons along the dorsoventral axis1. Genetic and in vitro studies have shown that Shh also later acts as a midline-derived chemoattractant for commissural axons2. However, the receptor(s) responsible for Shh attraction remain unknown. Here we show that two Robo-related proteins, Boc and Cdon, bind specifically to Shh and are therefore candidate receptors for the action of Shh as an axon guidance ligand. Boc is expressed by commissural neurons, and targeted disruption of Boc in mouse results in the misguidance of commissural axons towards the floor plate. RNA-interference-mediated knockdown of Boc impairs the ability of rat commissural axons to turn towards an ectopic source of Shh in vitro. Taken together, these data suggest that Boc is essential as a receptor for Shh in commissural axon guidance.

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We thank L. Luo, A. O’Reilly, M. Scott and K. Shen for critically reading the manuscript; C. Jolicoeur and H. Rayburn for the generation of chimaeric mice; C. Kaznowski for technical assistance; R. Krauss, J. Zhang, M. Scott, H. Tian and F. de Sauvage for discussions during early stages of the project; and T. Rando for supporting A.O. during the writing of the manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and American Cancer Institute to A.O., the National Eye Institute to S.K.M., the National Institute of Mental Health to M.T.L. and S.K.M., and the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, the Fonds de Recherche en Santé du Québec (FRSQ), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Peter Lougheed Medical Research Foundation to F.C.

Author information

Author notes

    • Ami Okada

    Present address: Department of Neurology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, 94305, USA

  1. Ami Okada and Frédéric Charron: These authors contributed equally to this work.


  1. Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, California, 94305, Stanford, USA

    • Ami Okada
    • , Frédéric Charron
    • , David S. Shin
    •  & Susan K. McConnell
  2. Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), 110 avenue des Pins Ouest, Quebec, H2W 1R7, Montreal, Canada

    • Frédéric Charron
    • , Steves Morin
    •  & Pierre J. Fabre
  3. Department of Medicine, University of Montreal, Quebec, Montreal, Canada

    • Frédéric Charron
    •  & Pierre J. Fabre
  4. Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco, 1 DNA Way, California, 94080, USA

    • Karen Wong
    •  & Marc Tessier-Lavigne


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Competing interests

Reprints and permissions information is available at www.nature.com/reprints. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ami Okada.

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  1. Supplementary Notes

    This file contains Supplementary Figures 1–6 and Supplementary Methods (PDF 4841 kb)

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