Robo functions as an attractive cue for glial migration through SYG-1/Neph.
As one of the most-studied receptors, Robo plays functions in many biological processes, and its functions highly depend on Slit, the ligand of Robo. Here we uncover a Slit-independent role of Robo in glial migration and show that neurons can release an extracellular fragment of Robo upon cleavage to attract glia during migration in Caenorhabditis elegans. Furthermore, we identified the conserved cell adhesion molecule SYG-1/Neph as a receptor for the cleaved extracellular Robo fragment to mediate glial migration and SYG-1/Neph functions through regulation of the WAVE complex. Our studies reveal a previously unknown Slit-independent function and regulatory mechanism of Robo and show that the cleaved extracellular fragment of Robo can function as a ligand for SYG-1/Neph to guide glial migration. As Robo, the cleaved region of Robo, and SYG-1/Neph are all highly conserved across the animal kingdom, our findings may present a conserved Slit-independent Robo mechanism during brain development.
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