PublicationsIntrinsic Determinants of Axon Regeneration
The failure of axons to regenerate in the damaged mammalian CNS is the main impediment to functional recovery. There are many molecules and structures in the environment of the injured nervous system that can inhibit regeneration, but even when these are removed or replaced with a permissive environment, most CNS neurons exhibit little regeneration of their axons. This contrasts with the extensive and vigorous axon growth that may occur when embryonic neurons are transplanted into the adult CNS. In the peripheral nervous system, the axons usually respond to axotomy with a vigorous regenerative response accompanied by a regenerative program of gene expression, usually referred to as the regeneration-associated gene (RAG) program. These different responses to axotomy in the mature and immature CNS and the PNS lead to the concept of the intrinsic regenerative response of axons. Analysis of the many mechanisms and issues that affect the intrinsic regenerative response is the topic of this special issue of Developmental Neurobiology. The review articles highlight the control of expression of growth and regeneration-associated genes, emphasizing the role of epigenetic mechanisms. The reviews also discuss changes within axons that lead to the developmental loss of regenerative ability. This is caused by changes in axonal transport and trafficking, in the cytoskeleton and in signaling pathways.