In the retinotectal projection, nasal retinal axons project to posterior tectum, while temporal axons project to the anterior part of the tectum. In in vitro experiments, a similar specificity can be observed: the nasal and temporal retinal axons can be guided by tectal membrane components so that, for example, temporal retinal axons, when growing on a striped substratum consisting of anterior and posterior tectal membranes, express a very strong preference for the anterior stripes. This preference is not due to attractivity of anterior membranes but rather to avoidance of posterior material, although the pure posterior membranes are a very good substratum for growth of temporal axons. The repellent guidance molecule has been identified. Interestingly, besides guidance this molecule causes another reaction: when growing temporal axons are exposed to medium containing either posterior membranes or artificial lipid vesicles containing the repellent guidance molecule, the axonal growth cones collapse. As in guidance, there is a clear regional specificity: e.g. the repellent guidance molecule derived from posterior tectum induces collapse of temporal but not of nasal axons. Since the guiding and the collapse-inducing activity are expressed by one and the same glycoprotein molecule (Mr 33 × 10(3), linked to the membrane by phosphatidylinositol) and since another molecule has been identified by Keynes' group which also expresses both guiding and collapse-inducing activity, one might speculate that axonal guidance and axonal collapse have something in common. Models of axonal guidance will be discussed.

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