Slit coordinates cardiac morphogenesis in Drosophila
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Slit is a secreted guidance cue that conveys repellent or attractive signals from target and guidepost cells. In Drosophila, responsive cells express one or more of three Robo receptors. The cardial cells of the developing heart express both Slit and Robo2. This is the first report of coincident expression of a Robo and its ligand. In slit mutants, cardial cell alignment, polarization and uniform migration are disrupted. The heart phenotype of robo2 mutants is similar, with fewer migration defects. In the guidance of neuronal growth cones in Drosophila, there is a phenotypic interaction between slit and robo heterozygotes, and also with genes required for Robo signaling. In contrast, in the heart, slit has little or no phenotypic interaction with Robo-related genes, including Robo2, Nck2, and Disabled. However, there is a strong phenotypic interaction with Integrin genes and their ligands, including Laminin and Collagen, and intracellular messengers, including Talin and ILK. This indicates that Slit participates in adhesion or adhesion signaling during heart development.