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Keywords:

  • collagen XVIII and XV;
  • Drosophila;
  • endostatin;
  • extracellular matrix;
  • motoaxon guidance

Multiplexins are multidomain collagens typically composed of an N-terminal thrombospondin-related domain, an interrupted triple helix and a C-terminal endostatin domain. They feature a clear regulatory function in the development of different tissues, which is chiefly conveyed by the endostatin domain. This domain can be found in proteolytically released monomeric and trimeric versions, and their diverse and opposed effects on the migratory behavior of epithelial and endothelial cell types have been demonstrated in cell culture experiments. The only Drosophila multiplexin displays specific features of both vertebrate multiplexins, collagens XV and XVIII. We characterized the Drosophila multiplexin (dmp) gene and found that three main isoforms are expressed from it, one of which is the monomeric endostatin version. Generation of dmp deletion alleles revealed that Dmp plays a role in motor axon pathfinding, as the mutants exhibit ventral bypass defects of the intersegmental nerve b (ISNb) similar to other motor axon guidance mutants. Transgenic overexpression of monomeric endostatin as well as of full-length Dmp, but not trimeric endostatin, were able to rescue these defects. In contrast, trimeric endostatin increased axon pathfinding accuracy in wild type background. We conclude that Dmp plays a modulating role in motor axon pathfinding and may be part of a buffering system that functions to avoid innervation errors.