Cranial motor axons navigate along a variety of pathways to their targets in the periphery of the head. Whereas somatic motor axons innervate tongue and eye muscles, visceral motor axons innervate parasympathetic ganglia, and branchiomotor axons innervate the branchial arches. The formation of these diverse pathways must depend upon molecules present in the environment traversed by growing axons. We have analyzed the potential roles of the ephrin ligands and their Eph tyrosine kinase receptors during cranial motor neuron development and axon pathfinding, by investigating expression patterns of these molecules at relevant stages in the chick. We detected expression of EphA3 and EphA4 among trigeminal and facial motor neurons, at times when these neurons are projecting to their muscle targets in the branchial arches. Corresponding ephrin-A ligands for these receptors were found to be expressed in specific regions of the arches during the same period, implicating ephrin-mediated interactions in cranial motor axon pathfinding.
Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2000
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