Frizzled-3a and slit2 genetically interact to modulate midline axon crossing in the telencephalon.
ABSTRACT The anterior commissure forms the first axon connections between the two sides of the embryonic telencephalon. We investigated the role of the transmembrane receptor Frizzled-3a in the development of this commissure using zebrafish as an experimental model. Knock down of Frizzled-3a resulted in complete loss of the anterior commissure. This defect was accompanied by a loss of the glial bridge, expansion of the slit2 expression domain and perturbation of the midline telencephalic-diencephalic boundary. Blocking Slit2 activity following knock down of Frizzled-3a effectively rescued the anterior commissure defect which suggested that Frizzled-3a was indirectly controlling the growth of axons across the rostral midline. We have shown here that Frizzled-3a is essential for normal development of the commissural plate and that loss-of-function causes Slit2-dependent defects in axon midline crossing in the embryonic vertebrate forebrain. These data supports a model whereby Wnt signaling through Frizzled-3a attenuates expression of Slit2 in the rostral midline of the forebrain. The absence of Slit2 facilitates the formation of a midline bridge of glial cells which is used as a substrate for commissural axons. In the absence of this platform of glia, commissural axons fail to cross the rostral midline of the forebrain.