Cell surface proteins anchored to membranes via covalently attached glycosyl-phosphatidylinositol (GPI) have been implicated in neuronal adhesion, promotion of neurite outgrowth and directed cell migration. Treatment of grasshopper embryos with bacterial phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC), an enzyme that cleaves the GPI anchor, often induced disruptions in the highly stereotyped migrations of peripheral pioneer growth cones and afferent neuron cell bodies. In distal limb regions of embryos treated with PI-PLC at early stages of pioneer axon outgrowth, growth cones lost their proximal orientation toward the central nervous system (CNS) and turned distally. Pioneer growth cones in treated limbs also failed to make a characteristic ventral turn along the trochanter-coxa (Tr-Cx) segment boundary, and instead continued to grow proximally across the boundary. Treatment at an earlier stage of development caused pre-axonogenesis Cx1 neurons to abandon their normal circumferential migration and reorient toward the CNS. None of these abnormal phenotypes were observed in limbs of untreated embryos or embryos exposed to other phospholipases that do not release GPI-anchored proteins. Incubation of embryos with PI-PLC effectively removed immunoreactivity for fasciclin I, a GPI-anchored protein expressed on a subset of neuronal surfaces. These results suggest that cell surface GPI-anchored proteins are involved in pioneer growth cone guidance and in pre-axonogenesis migration of neurons in the grasshopper limb bud in vivo.

This content is only available via PDF.