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Growth-associated protein GAP-43 and L1 act synergistically to promote regenerative growth of Purkinje cell axons in vivo

Research group Verhaagen
Publication year 2005
Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Authors Yi Zhang, Xuenong Bo, Ralf Schoepfer, Anthony J D G Holtmaat, J. Verhaagen, Piers C Emson, A Robert Lieberman, Patrick N Anderson

Neuronal expression of growth-associated protein 43 (GAP-43) and the cell adhesion molecule L1 has been correlated with CNS axonal growth and regeneration, but it is not known whether expression of these molecules is necessary for axonal regeneration to occur. We have taken advantage of the fact that Purkinje cells do not express GAP-43 or L1 in adult mammals or regenerate axons into peripheral nerve grafts to test the importance of these molecules for axonal regeneration in vivo. Transgenic mice were generated in which Purkinje cells constitutively express L1 or both L1 and GAP-43 under the Purkinje cell-specific L7 promoter, and regeneration of Purkinje cell axons into peripheral nerve grafts implanted into the cerebellum was examined. Purkinje cells expressing GAP-43 or L1 showed minor enhancement of axonal sprouting. Purkinje cells expressing both GAP-43 and L1 showed more extensive axonal sprouting and axonal growth into the proximal portion of the graft. When a predegenerated nerve graft was implanted into double-transgenic mice, penetration of the graft by Purkinje cell axonal sprouts was strongly enhanced, and some axons grew along the entire intracerebral length of the graft (2.5-3.0 mm) and persisted for several months. The results demonstrate that GAP-43 and L1 coexpressed in Purkinje cells can act synergistically to switch these regeneration-incompetent CNS neurons into a regeneration-competent phenotype and show that coexpression of these molecules is a key regulator of the regenerative ability of intrinsic CNS neurons in vivo.

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