Indexed on: 20 Jul '04Published on: 20 Jul '04Published in: Nature Cell Biology
Repulsive guidance molecule (RGM) is an axon guidance protein that repels retinal axons upon activation of the neogenin receptor. To understand the functions of RGM-neogenin complexes in vivo, we used gene transfer technology to perturb their expression in the developing neural tube of chick embryos. Surprisingly, neogenin over-expression or RGM down-expression in the neural tube induces apoptosis. Neogenin pro-apoptotic activity in immortalized neuronal cells and in the neural tube is associated with the cleavage of its cytoplasmic domain by caspases. Thus neogenin is a dependence receptor inducing cell death in the absence of RGM, whereas the presence of RGM inhibits this effect.