Nakao F, Hudson ML, Suzuki M, Peckler Z, Kurokawa R, Liu Z, Gengyo-Ando K, Nukazuka A, Fujii T, Suto F, Shibata Y, Shioi G, Fujisawa H, Mitani S, Chisholm AD, Takagi S.
Semaphorins are extracellular proteins that regulate axon guidance and morphogenesis by interacting with a variety of cell surface receptors. Most semaphorins interact with plexin-containing receptor complexes, although some interact with non-plexin receptors. Class 2 semaphorins are secreted molecules that control axon guidance and epidermal morphogenesis in Drosophila and Caenorhabditis elegans. We show that the C. elegans class 2 semaphorin MAB-20 binds the plexin PLX-2. plx-2 mutations enhance the phenotypes of hypomorphic mab-20 alleles but not those of mab-20 null alleles, indicating that plx-2 and mab-20 act in a common pathway. Both mab-20 and plx-2 mutations affect epidermal morphogenesis during embryonic and in postembryonic development. In both contexts, plx-2 null mutant phenotypes are much less severe than mab-20 null phenotypes, indicating that PLX-2 is not essential for MAB-20 signaling. Mutations in the ephrin efn-4 do not synergize with mab-20, indicating that EFN-4 may act in MAB-20 signaling. EFN-4 and PLX-2 are coexpressed in the late embryonic epidermis where they play redundant roles in MAB-20-dependent cell sorting.