Annual review of cell and developmental biology vol:27 pages:697-729
The nervous system consists of an ensemble of billions of neurons interconnected in a highly specific pattern that allows proper propagation and integration of neural activities. The organization of these specific connections emerges from sequential developmental events including axon guidance, target selection, and synapse formation. These events critically rely on cell-cell recognition and communication mediated by cell-surface ligands and receptors. Recent studies have uncovered central roles for leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain-containing proteins, not only in organizing neural connectivity from axon guidance to target selection to synapse formation, but also in various nervous system disorders. Their versatile LRR domains, in particular, serve as key sites for interactions with a wide diversity of binding partners. Here, we focus on a few exquisite examples of secreted or membrane-associated LRR proteins in Drosophila and mammals and review the mechanisms by which they regulate diverse aspects of nervous system development and function.