Successful axonal regeneration depends on a critical balance between the expression of growth-promoting and growth-inhibiting molecules. During development axons are guided to their targets by attractive (neurotrophic factors, netrins, cell-adhesion molecules) and chemorepulsive cues (semaphorins, slits, netrins, repulsive guidance molecule-A). Chemorepulsive proteins define forbidden territories for growth cones and prevent the formation of aberrant nerve projections during neurodevelopment. We are investigating common molecular pathways involved in chemorepulsion during development and growth inhibition and neurodegeneration in the adult injured nervous system.
This research line focuses on the role of chemorepulsive semaphorins as inhibitors of regeneration and as inducers of axon retraction in motor neuron disease. Furthermore a number of novel inhibitory proteins has recently been identified using microarrays.