Towing of sensory axons by their migrating target cells in vivo


Many pathfinding axons must locate target fields that are themselves positioned by active migration. A hypothetical method for ensuring that these migrations are coordinated is towing, whereby the extension of axons is entirely dependent on the migration of their target cells. Here we combine genetics and time-lapse imaging in the zebrafish to show that towing by migrating cells is a bona fide mechanism for guiding pathfinding axons in vivo.

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Figure 1: In vivo imaging of lateral line migration in wild-type and ody mutants.
Figure 2: The lateral line nerve is towed by the migrating primordium.
Figure 3: Migrating LLP provides cues that are sufficient to guide the LL nerve.


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We are grateful to J. Campos-Ortega for providing the H2A-F/Z:GFP transgenic line and to F. Peri for discussion and critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported by the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft.

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Correspondence to Darren Gilmour.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Fig. 1

(a) In situ hybridisation showing CXCR4b expression in wild type lateral line primordium at 36 hpf. The G-protein coupled receptor is rapidly down regulated in newly deposited pro-neuromasts (arrows). (b) Endogenous alkaline phosphatase staining of neuromasts in 5 day old larvae. Ody mutants (lower) show strongly reduced number of neuromasts in the posterior lateral line when compared to wild type siblings (upper). (JPG 55 kb)

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