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The stimulation of dendrite growth by Sema3A requires integrin engagement and focal adhesion kinase
Uwe Schlomann, Jens C. Schwamborn, Myriam Müller, Reinhard Fässler, Andreas W. Püschel


The rate and direction of axon and dendrite growth depend on multiple guidance signals and growth factors. Semaphorin 3A (Sema3A) acts as a repellent for axons and attractant for dendrites. Here, we show that the requirement for integrin engagement distinguishes the response of axons and dendrites to Sema3A in hippocampal neurons. Sema3A promotes the extension of hippocampal dendrites by a pathway that requires focal adhesion kinase (FAK). The stimulation of dendrite growth and FAK phosphorylation by Sema3A depend on integrin engagement. Unlike their function as a target of Sema3A during the collapse of axonal growth cones, integrins facilitate the stimulation of dendrite extension. Conditional inactivation of the genes encoding β1 integrin or FAK blocks the growth-promoting effect of Sema3A but not the collapse of axonal growth cones. Our results demonstrate that different pathways mediate the stimulation of dendrite growth and the collapse of axonal growth cones by Sema3A.


  • Supplementary material available online at

  • We thank Takeshi Yagi and Masahiko Taniguchi for providing us with Sema3a+/– mice, Roger W. Tsien for providing the pREST-mCherry, David D. Schlaepfer for the FAK-R454 construct, and Lena Will for constructing pCherry. The GFP-Cre (pBS505) construct generated by Brian Sauer was obtained through addgene. This work was supported by grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 492-B14) to A.W.P. and a fellowship from the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds (J.C.S.).

  • * Present address: Department of Biochemistry, King's College London, London SE1 9NH, UK

  • Present address: ZMBE, Institute of Cell Biology, Stem Cell Biology and Regeneration Group, Westfalische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Von-Esmarch-Str. 56, 48149 Münster, Germany

  • Accepted March 9, 2009.
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