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Neuropilin (NRP) receptors and their class 3 semaphorin (SEMA3) ligands play well-established roles in axon guidance, with loss of NRP1, NRP2, SEMA3A or SEMA3F causing defasciculation and errors in growth cone guidance of peripherally projecting nerves. Here we report that loss of NRP1 or NRP2 also impairs sensory neuron positioning in the mouse head, and that this defect is a consequence of inappropriate cranial neural crest cell migration. Specifically, neural crest cells move into the normally crest-free territory between the trigeminal and hyoid neural crest streams and recruit sensory neurons from the otic placode; these ectopic neurons then extend axons between the trigeminal and facioacoustic ganglia. Moreover, we found that NRP1 and NRP2 cooperate to guide cranial neural crest cells and position sensory neurons; thus, in the absence of SEMA3/NRP signalling, the segmentation of the cranial nervous system is lost. We conclude that neuropilins play multiple roles in the sensory nervous system by directing cranial neural crest cells, positioning sensory neurons and organising their axonal projections.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1605 - 1613


Animals, Axons, Cell Differentiation, Cell Movement, Cranial Nerves, Ganglia, Hyoid Bone, Mice, Morphogenesis, Mutation, Neural Crest, Neurons, Afferent, Neuropilin-1, Neuropilin-2, Skull