Optic nerve injury upregulates retinoic acid signaling in the adult frog visual system.
ABSTRACT: Retinoic acid (RA) is important during development, in neuronal plasticity, and also in peripheral nervous system regeneration. Here we use the frog visual system as a model to investigate the changes in RA signaling that take place after axonal injury to the central nervous system. Immunocytochemistry was used to localize different components of RA signaling within sections of the retina and optic tectum, namely, the synthetic enzyme retinaldehyde dehydrogenase (RALDH), the RA binding proteins CRABPI and II, the retinoic acid receptors RAR?, ? and ?, and finally the catabolic enzyme CYP26A1. The levels of these proteins were quantified in extracts of retina and tectum using Western blotting. Animals were studied at 1 week, 3 weeks and 6 weeks after optic nerve transection. At the latter time point the RGC axons were re-entering the optic tectum. All the components of RA signaling were present at low to moderate levels in retinas and tecta of control, unoperated animals. In retina, soon after optic nerve injury there was a large increase in RALDH, some increase in the CRABPs, and a large increase in RGC RAR? and (expression. These increases continued as the RGC axons were regenerating, with the addition of later RAR? expression at 6 weeks. At no stage did CYP26A1 expression significantly change. In the tectum the levels of RALDH increased after axotomy and during regrowth of axons (3 weeks), then decreased at 6 weeks, at which time the levels of CYP26A1 increased. Axotomy did not cause an immediate increase in tectal RAR levels but RAR? and RAR? increased after 3 weeks and RAR? only after 6 weeks. These results are consistent with RA signaling playing an important role in the survival and regeneration of frog RGCs.
Project description:We have previously shown that application of fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) to cut optic nerve axons enhances retinal ganglion cell (RGC) survival in the adult frog visual system. These actions are mediated via activation of its high affinity receptor FGFR1, enhanced BDNF and TrkB expression, increased CREB phosphorylation, and by promoting MAPK and PKA signaling pathways. The role of endogenous FGF-2 in this system is less well understood. In this study, we determine the distribution of FGF-2 and its receptors in normal animals and in animals at different times after optic nerve cut. Immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis were conducted using specific antibodies against FGF-2 and its receptors in control retinas and optic tecta, and after one, three, and six weeks post nerve injury. FGF-2 was transiently increased in the retina while it was reduced in the optic tectum just one week after optic nerve transection. Axotomy induced a prolonged upregulation of FGFR1 and FGFR3 in both retina and tectum. FGFR4 levels decreased in the retina shortly after axotomy, whereas a significant increase was detected in the optic tectum. FGFR2 distribution was not affected by the optic nerve lesion. Changes in the presence of these proteins after axotomy suggest a potential role during regeneration.
Project description:Zebrafish central nervous system (CNS) possesses a strong neural regeneration ability to restore visual function completely after optic nerve injury (ONI). However, whether neurogenesis of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) contributes to functional recovery remains controversial. Our quantitative analysis of RGCs in different ONI models showed that almost all RGCs survived in optic nerve crush (ONC) model; while over 90% of RGCs survived in the first 2 weeks with 75% remaining after 7 weeks in optic nerve transection (ONT) model. Retrograde labeling from tectum revealed a surprising regeneration rate, with over 90% and over 50% of RGCs regrowing axons to tectum at the first week in ONC and ONT model respectively. In the latter one, the number of regenerative RGCs after 4 weeks had no significant difference from the control group. As for neurogenesis, newborn RGCs were rarely detected either by double retrograde labeling or BrdU marker. Since few RGCs died, microglia number showed a temporary increase at 3 days post injury (dpi) and a decrease at 14 dpi. Finally, myelin structure within retina kept integrity and optomotor response (OMR) test demonstrated visual functional restoration at 5 weeks post injury (wpi). In conclusion, our results have directly shown that RGC survival and axon regrowth are responsible for functional recovery after ONI in adult zebrafish.
Project description:Mutations in the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor gene (rb1) cause both sporadic and familial forms of childhood retinoblastoma. Despite its clinical relevance, the roles of rb1 during normal retinotectal development and function are not well understood. We have identified mutations in the zebrafish space cadet locus that lead to a premature truncation of the rb1 gene, identical to known mutations in sporadic and familial forms of retinoblastoma. In wild-type embryos, axons of early born retinal ganglion cells (RGC) pioneer the retinotectal tract to guide later born RGC axons. In rb1 deficient embryos, these early born RGCs show a delay in cell cycle exit, causing a transient deficit of differentiated RGCs. As a result, later born mutant RGC axons initially fail to exit the retina, resulting in optic nerve hypoplasia. A significant fraction of mutant RGC axons eventually exit the retina, but then frequently project to the incorrect optic tectum. Although rb1 mutants eventually establish basic retinotectal connectivity, behavioral analysis reveals that mutants exhibit deficits in distinct, visually guided behaviors. Thus, our analysis of zebrafish rb1 mutants reveals a previously unknown yet critical role for rb1 during retinotectal tract development and visual function.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Retinotopic projection onto the tectum/colliculus constitutes the most studied model of topographic mapping and Eph receptors and their ligands, the ephrins, are the best characterized molecular system involved in this process. Ephrin-As, expressed in an increasing rostro-caudal gradient in the tectum/colliculus, repel temporal retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons from the caudal tectum and inhibit their branching posterior to their termination zones. However, there are conflicting data regarding the nature of the second force that guides nasal axons to invade and branch only in the caudal tectum/colliculus. The predominant model postulates that this second force is produced by a decreasing rostro-caudal gradient of EphA7 which repels nasal optic fibers and prevents their branching in the rostral tectum/colliculus. However, as optic fibers invade the tectum/colliculus growing throughout this gradient, this model cannot explain how the axons grow throughout this repellent molecule. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: By using chicken retinal cultures we showed that EphA3 ectodomain stimulates nasal RGC axon growth in a concentration dependent way. Moreover, we showed that nasal axons choose growing on EphA3-expressing cells and that EphA3 diminishes the density of interstitial filopodia in nasal RGC axons. Accordingly, in vivo EphA3 ectodomain misexpression directs nasal optic fibers toward the caudal tectum preventing their branching in the rostral tectum. CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrated in vitro and in vivo that EphA3 ectodomain (which is expressed in a decreasing rostro-caudal gradient in the tectum) is necessary for topographic mapping by stimulating the nasal axon growth toward the caudal tectum and inhibiting their branching in the rostral tectum. Furthermore, the ability of EphA3 of stimulating axon growth allows understanding how optic fibers invade the tectum growing throughout this molecular gradient. Therefore, opposing tectal gradients of repellent ephrin-As and of axon growth stimulating EphA3 complement each other to map optic fibers along the rostro-caudal tectal axis.
Project description:In contrast to mammals, retinal ganglion cells (RGC) axons of the optic nerve even in mature zebrafish exhibit a remarkable capacity for spontaneous regeneration. One constraint of using adult zebrafish is the limited ability to visualize the regeneration process in live animals. To dynamically visualize and trace the degree of target specific optic nerve regeneration, we took advantage of the optical transparency still preserved in post developmental larval zebrafish. We developed a rapid and robust assay to physically transect the larval optic nerve and find that by 96 hours post injury RGC axons have robustly regrown onto the optic tectum. We observe functional regeneration by 8 days post injury, and demonstrate that similar to adult zebrafish, optic nerve transection in larval zebrafish does not prominently induce cell death or proliferation of RGC neurons. Furthermore, we find that partial optic nerve transection results in axonal growth predominantly to the original, contralateral tectum, while complete transection results in innervation of both the correct contralateral and 'incorrect' ipsilateral tectum. Axonal tracing reveals that although regenerating axons innervate the 'incorrect' ipsilateral tectum, they successfully target their topographically appropriate synaptic areas. Combined, our results validate post developmental larval zebrafish as a powerful model for optic nerve regeneration, and reveal intricate mechanistic differences between axonal growth, midline guidance and synaptic targeting during zebrafish optic nerve regeneration.
Project description:In the zebrafish retinotectal system, retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) project topographically along anterior-posterior (A-P) and dorsal-ventral (D-V) axes to innervate their primary target, the optic tectum. In the nevermind (nev) mutant, D-V positional information is not maintained by dorsonasal retinal axons as they project through the optic tract to the tectum. Here we present a detailed phenotypic analysis of the retinotectal projection in nev and show that dorsonasal axons do eventually find their correct location on the tectum, albeit after taking a circuitous path. Interestingly, nev seems to be specifically required for retinal axons but not for several non-retinal axon tracts. In addition, we find that nev is required both cell autonomously and cell nonautonomously for proper lamination of the retina. We show that nev encodes Cyfip2 (Cytoplasmic FMRP interacting protein 2) and is thus the first known mutation in a vertebrate Cyfip family member. Finally, we show that CYFIP2 acts cell autonomously in the D-V sorting of dorsonasal RGC axons in the optic tract. CYFIP2 is a highly conserved protein that lacks known domains or structural motifs but has been shown to interact with Rac and the fragile-X mental retardation protein, suggesting intriguing links to cytoskeletal dynamics and RNA regulation.
Project description:The role of classic morphogens such as Sonic hedgehog (Shh) as axon guidance cues has been reported in a variety of vertebrate organisms (Charron and Tessier-Lavigne  Development 132:2251-2262). In this work, we provide the first evidence that Xenopus sonic hedgehog (Xshh) signaling is involved in guiding retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons along the optic tract. Xshh is expressed in the brain during retinal axon extension, adjacent to these axons in the ventral diencephalon. Retinal axons themselves express Patched 1 and Smoothened co-receptors during RGC axon growth. Blocking Shh signaling causes abnormal ventral pathfinding, and targeting errors at the optic tectum. Misexpression of exogenous N-Shh peptide in vivo also causes pathfinding errors. Retinal axons grown in culture respond to N-Shh in a dose-dependent manner, either by decreasing extension at lower concentrations, or retracting axons in the presence of higher doses. These data suggest that Shh signaling is required for normal RGC axon pathfinding and tectal targeting in the developing visual system of Xenopus. We propose that Shh serves as a ventral optic tract repellent that helps to define the caudal boundary for retinal axons in the diencephalon, and that this signaling is also required for initial target recognition at the optic tectum.
Project description:PURPOSE:The Wlds mutation affords protection of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons in retinal ischemia and in inducible and hereditary preclinical models of glaucoma. We undertook the present study to determine whether the Nmnat1 portion of the chimeric protein provides axonal and somatic protection of RGCs in models of ischemia and glaucoma, particularly when localized to nonnuclear regions of the cell. METHODS:The survival and integrity of RGC axons and soma from transgenic mice with confirmed cytoplasmic overexpression of Nmnat1 in retina and optic nerve (cytNmnat1-Tg mice) were examined in the retina and postlaminar optic nerve 4 days following acute retinal ischemia, and 3 weeks following the chronic elevation of intraocular pressure. RESULTS:Ischemia- and glaucoma-induced disruptions of proximal segments of RGC axons that comprise the nerve fiber layer in wild-type mice were both robustly abrogated in cytNmnat1-Tg mice. More distal portions of RGC axons within the optic nerve were also protected from glaucomatous disruption in the transgenic mice. In both disease models, Nmnat1 overexpression in extranuclear locations significantly enhanced the survival of RGC soma. CONCLUSIONS:Overexpression of Nmnat1 in the cytoplasm and axons of RGCs robustly protected against both ischemic and glaucomatous loss of RGC axonal integrity, as well as loss of RGC soma. These findings reflect the more pan-cellular protection of CNS neurons that is realized by cytoplasmic Nmnat1 expression, and thus provide a therapeutic strategy for protecting against retinal neurodegeneration, and perhaps other CNS neurodegenerative diseases as well.
Project description:Cell adhesion molecules play a central role in mediating axonal tract development within the nascent nervous system. NF-protocadherin (NFPC), a member of the non-clustered protocadherin family, has been shown to regulate retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axon and dendrite initiation, as well as influencing axonal navigation within the mid-optic tract. However, whether NFPC mediates RGC axonal behaviour at other positions within the optic pathway remains unclear. Here we report that NFPC plays an important role in RGC axonogenesis, but not in intraretinal guidance. Moreover, axons with reduced NFPC levels exhibit insensitivity to Netrin-1, an attractive guidance cue expressed at the optic nerve head. Netrin-1 induces rapid turnover of NFPC localized to RGC growth cones, suggesting that the regulation of NFPC protein levels may underlie Netrin-1-mediated entry of RGC axons into the optic nerve head. At the tectum, we further reveal a function for NFPC in controlling RGC axonal entry into the final target area. Collectively, our results expand our understanding of the role of NFPC in RGC guidance and illustrate that this adhesion molecule contributes to axon behaviour at multiple points in the optic pathway.
Project description:Chick PTPsigma (cPTPsigma), also known as CRYPalpha, is a receptor-like protein tyrosine phosphatase found on axons and growth cones. Putative ligands for cPTPsigma are distributed within basement membranes and on glial end feet of the retina, optic nerve, and optic tectum, suggesting that cPTPsigma signaling is occurring along the whole retinotectal pathway. We have shown previously that cPTPsigma plays a role in supporting the retinal phase of axon outgrowth. Here we have now addressed the role of cPTPsigma within retinal axons as they undergo growth and topographic targeting in the optic tectum. With the use of retroviruses, a secretable cPTPsigma ectodomain was ectopically expressed in ovo in the developing chick optic tectum, with the aim of directly disrupting the function of endogenous cPTPsigma. In ovo, the secreted ectodomains accumulated at tectal sites in which cPTPsigma ligands are also specifically found, suggesting that they are binding to these endogenous ligands. Anterograde labeling of retinal axons entering these optic tecta revealed abnormal axonal phenotypes. These included the premature stalling and arborization of fibers, excessive pretectal arbor formation, and diffuse termination zones. Most of the defects were rostral of the predicted termination zone, indicating that cPTPsigma function is necessary for sustaining the growth of retinal axons over the optic tectum and for directing axons to their correct sites of termination. This demonstrates that regulation of cPTPsigma signaling in retinal axons is required for their topographic mapping, the first evidence of this function for a receptor-like protein tyrosine phosphatase in the retinotectal projection.