Hierarchical guidance cues in the developing nervous system of C. elegans

William G. Wadsworth, Edward M. Hedgecock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


During embryogenesis, the basic axon scaffold of the nervous system is formed by special axons that pioneer pathways between groups of cells. To find their way, the pioneer growth cones detect specific cues in their extracellular environment. One of these guidance cues is netrin. Observations and experimental manipulations in vertebrates and nematodes have shown that netrin is a bifunctional guidance cue that can simultaneously attract and repel axons. During the formation of this basic axon scaffold in Caenorhabditis elegans, the netrin UNC-6 is expressed by neuroglia and pioneer neurons, providing hierarchical guidance cues throughout the animal. Each cue has a characteristic role depending on the cell type, its position and the developmental stage. These roles include activities as global, decussation and labeled-pathway cues. This hierarchical model of UNC-6 netrin-mediated guidance suggests a method by which guidance cues can direct formation of basic axon scaffolds in developing nervous systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-362
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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