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A vast repertoire of Dscam binding specificities arises from modular interactions of variable Ig domains.

Wojtowicz W.M., Wu W., Andre I., Qian B., Baker D., Zipursky S.L.

Dscam encodes a family of cell surface proteins required for establishing neural circuits in Drosophila. Alternative splicing of Drosophila Dscam can generate 19,008 distinct extracellular domains containing different combinations of three variable immunoglobulin domains. To test the binding properties of many Dscam isoforms, we developed a high-throughput ELISA-based binding assay. We provide evidence that 95% (>18,000) of Dscam isoforms exhibit striking isoform-specific homophilic binding. We demonstrate that each of the three variable domains binds to the same variable domain in an opposing isoform and identify the structural elements that mediate this self-binding of each domain. These studies demonstrate that self-binding domains can assemble in different combinations to generate an enormous family of homophilic binding proteins. We propose that this vast repertoire of Dscam recognition molecules is sufficient to provide each neuron with a unique identity and homotypic binding specificity, thereby allowing neuronal processes to distinguish between self and nonself.

Cell 130:1134-1145(2007) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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