Structures of netrin-1 bound to two receptors provide insight into its axon guidance mechanism

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Science  29 May 2014:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255149

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Netrins are secreted proteins that regulate axon guidance and neuronal migration. DCC is a well-established Netrin-1 receptor mediating attractive responses. We provide evidence that its close relative neogenin is also a functional Netrin-1 receptor that acts with DCC to mediate guidance in vivo. We determined the structures of a functional Netrin-1 region, alone and in complexes with neogenin or DCC. Netrin-1 has a rigid elongated structure containing two receptor-binding sites at opposite ends through which it brings together receptor molecules. The ligand/receptor complexes reveal two distinct architectures: a 2:2 heterotetramer and a continuous ligand/receptor assembly. The differences result from different lengths of the linker connecting receptor domains FN4 and FN5, which differs among DCC and neogenin splice variants, providing a basis for diverse signaling outcomes.

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