Axon guidance proteins are critical for the correct wiring of the nervous system during development. Several axon guidance cues and their family members have been well characterized. More unidentified axon guidance cues are assumed to participate in the formation of the extremely complex nervous system. We identified a secreted protein, draxin, that shares no homology with known guidance cues. Draxin inhibited or repelled neurite outgrowth from dorsal spinal cord and cortical explants in vitro. Ectopically expressed draxin inhibited growth or caused misrouting of chick spinal cord commissural axons in vivo. draxin knockout mice showed defasciculation of spinal cord commissural axons and absence of all forebrain commissures. Thus, draxin is a previously unknown chemorepulsive axon guidance molecule required for the development of spinal cord and forebrain commissures.
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