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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Semaphorin 5B : an inhibitory transmembrane guidance cue reveals its secretable function Lett, Robyn Lynn Mwuese


Corticofugal axons projecting to the thalamus, brainstem and spinal cord must travel the same initial trajectory through the subcortical lateral and medial ganglionic eminences, and are therefore likely subject to the same sets of guidance cues. These cues direct the course of corticofugal axons bringing them to each intermediate target, until they reach the diencephalic-telencephalic boundary, where axons targeting the thalamus turn dorsally and brainstem and spinal cord targeting axons turn ventrally. Many of these guidance cues have been elucidated, yet there are still gaps in our understanding of the formation of the corticofugal projection. I found that Sema5B expression flanked the presumptive internal capsule during its formation, and was therefore ideally situated both spatially and temporally to act as an instructive cue for descending cortical axons. In Chapter 2, I show that Sema5B is not only capable of inhibiting cortical axons in vitro, but can cause misguidance of cortical axons in slice culture when placed ectopically over normally non-Sema5B expressing regions. In addition, I show that the loss of Sema5B from the neocortical VZ resulted in aberrant penetration of this normally avoided region. Therefore Sema5B is both necessary and sufficient to inhibit the corticofugal projection. Semaphorins and their plexin receptors are frequently proteolyzed to modulate the elicited responses in navigating growth cones. In Chapter 3 I show that Sema5B cleavage results in an inhibitory fragment that in heterologous cells can produce inhibitory gradients for cortical explants in collagen gel co-cultures, and collapse dissociated cortical neuronal growth cones, an effect that can be blocked with a function disrupting antibody to the cell adhesion molecule TAG-1. This thesis shows that Sema5B, a guidance cue with a hitherto unknown function, is responsible for a very important aspect of cortical development. My work leads to a final proposal that Sema5B is in fact a two-in-one protein with separable inhibitory and alternate complex functions, the implications of which are discussed thoroughly in Chapter 4.

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