The guidance molecule Netrin and its receptor DCC (deleted in colorectal cancer) attract commissural axons toward the midline en route to their final destination. To test whether these molecules can also guide dendrites, we studied the contralateral dendrites of zebrafish octavolateralis efferent (OLe) neurons, which are unusual in that they navigate toward and cross the midline. We found that, at the time of dendrite outgrowth, OLe neurons express dcc, and the hindbrain midline expresses netrin1. Knocking down dcc or netrin1 function by injecting antisense morpholino oligonucleotides prevented OLe contralateral dendrites from crossing the midline, showing that dcc and netrin1 are necessary for dendrite guidance or formation. Furthermore, by transplanting cells from dcc morphants into wild-type embryos and vice versa, we demonstrated that dcc acts cell autonomously in OLe dendrites. This work is the first evidence that Netrin/DCC signaling acts in dendrites in a vertebrate system.
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