Netrin-3, a mouse homolog of human NTN2L, is highly expressed in sensory ganglia and shows differential binding to netrin receptors

Hao Wang, Neal G. Copeland, Debra J. Gilbert, Nancy A. Jenkins, Marc Tessier-Lavigne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


The netrins comprise a small phylogenetically conserved family of guidance cues important for guiding particular axonal growth cones to their targets. Two netrin genes, netrin-1 and netrin-2, have been described in chicken, but in mouse so far a single netrin gene, an ortholog of chick netrin-1, has been reported. We report the identification of a second mouse netrin gene, which we name netrin-3. Netrin-3 does not appear to be the ortholog of chick netrin-2 but is the ortholog of a recently identified human netrin gene termed NTN2L ('netrin-2-like'), as evidenced by a high degree of sequence conservation and by chromosomal localization. Netrin-3 is expressed in sensory ganglia, mesenchymal cells, and muscles during the time of peripheral nerve development but is largely excluded from the CNS at early stages of its development. The murine netrin-3 protein binds to netrin receptors of the DCC (deleted in colorectal cancer) family [DCC and neogenin] and the UNC5 family (UNC5H1, UNC5H2 and UNC5H3). Unlike chick netrin-1, however, murine netrin-3 binds to DCC with lower affinity than to the other four receptors. Consistent with this finding, although murine netrin-3 can mimic the outgrowth-promoting activity of netrin-1 on commissural axons, it has lower specific activity than netrin-1. Thus, like netrin-1, netrin-3 may also function in axon guidance during development but may function predominantly in the development of the peripheral nervous system and may act primarily through netrin receptors other than DCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4938-4947
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 1999


  • Axon guidance
  • DCC
  • Mouse chromosome 17
  • Netrin-3
  • Peripheral nervous system
  • Sensory neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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