- Howitt JA, Clout NJ, Hohenester E
- Binding site for Robo receptors revealed by dissection of the leucine-rich repeat region of Slit.
- EMBO J. 2004 Nov 10;23(22):4406-12. Epub 2004 Oct 21.
- Recognition of the large secreted protein Slit by receptors of the Robo family provides fundamental signals in axon guidance and other developmental processes. In Drosophila, Slit-Robo signalling regulates midline crossing and the lateral position of longitudinal axon tracts. We report the functional dissection of Drosophila Slit, using structure analysis, site-directed mutagenesis and in vitro assays. The N-terminal region of Slit consists of a tandem array of four independently folded leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domains, connected by disulphide-tethered linkers. All three Drosophila Robos were found to compete for a single highly conserved site on the concave face of the second LRR domain of Slit. We also found that this domain is sufficient for biological activity in a chemotaxis assay. Other Slit activities may require Slit dimerisation mediated by the fourth LRR domain. Our results show that a small portion of Slit is able to induce Robo signalling and indicate that the distinct functions of Drosophila Robos are encoded in their divergent cytosolic domains.