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SYD-1C, UNC-40 (DCC) and SAX-3 (Robo) function interdependently to promote axon guidance by regulating the MIG-2 GTPase.


During development, axons must integrate directional information encoded by multiple guidance cues and their receptors. Axon guidance receptors, such as UNC-40 (DCC) and SAX-3 (Robo), can function individually or combinatorially with other guidance receptors to regulate downstream effectors. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that mediate combinatorial guidance receptor signaling. Here, we show that UNC-40, SAX-3 and the SYD-1 RhoGAP-like protein function interdependently to regulate the MIG-2 (Rac) GTPase in the HSN axon of C. elegans. We find that SYD-1 mediates an UNC-6 (netrin) independent UNC-40 activity to promote ventral axon guidance. Genetic analysis suggests that SYD-1 function in axon guidance requires both UNC-40 and SAX-3 activity. Moreover, the cytoplasmic domains of UNC-40 and SAX-3 bind to SYD-1 and SYD-1 binds to and negatively regulates the MIG-2 (Rac) GTPase. We also find that the function of SYD-1 in axon guidance is mediated by its phylogenetically conserved C isoform, indicating that the role of SYD-1 in guidance is distinct from its previously described roles in synaptogenesis and axonal specification. Our observations reveal a molecular mechanism that can allow two guidance receptors to function interdependently to regulate a common downstream effector, providing a potential means for the integration of guidance signals.

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