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Institute of Pharmacology

Plexin-semaphorin interactions in neural development


Semaphorins and their receptors, plexins, are key regulators of neuronal migration and axonal pathfinding. In contrast to the well-characterized plexin-A family, very little is known about the expression and functions of plexin-B family proteins in the developing nervous system.




Developing hippocampal neurons as a model system to study dendritic morphogenesis



Whole organ culture of embryonic kidneys to study epithelial-mesenchymal interactions during development



In the past, we have addressed the role of the plexin-B signaling complex in growth cone behaviour and nerve outgrowth in collaboration with the research group of Stefan Offermanns (Swiercz et al. 2002, 2004). Furthermore, our expression analysis revealed that plexin-B1 and plexin-B2 and their ligand semaphorin 4D (Sema4D) are expressed at key regions at critical time points during the development of the peripheral and central nervous system (Worzfeld et al., 2004). We have also addressed the role of plexin-B Sema4D interactions in epithelial-mesenchymal interactions during kidney development. Our current projects are focussed on characterizing mouse mutants lacking plexin-B1 or plexin-B2 for defects in the development of the peripheral and central nervous system.


Chain-migration of neuroblasts in the rostral migratory stream



Explant cultures of the developing cerebellum to study neuronal migration



Group members involved: Alexander Korostylev, Alexandra Hirschberg, Peter Vodrazka, Suhua Deng

Collaborations: Stefan Offermanns (Institute of Pharmacology, University of Heidelberg), Luca Tamagnone (University of Torino, Italy), Magdalena Götz (GSF, Munich)