An active vesicle priming machinery suppresses axon regeneration upon adult CNS injury.
ABSTRACT: Axons in the adult mammalian central nervous system fail to regenerate after spinal cord injury. Neurons lose their capacity to regenerate during development, but the intracellular processes underlying this loss are unclear. We found that critical components of the presynaptic active zone prevent axon regeneration in adult mice. Transcriptomic analysis combined with live-cell imaging revealed that adult primary sensory neurons downregulate molecular constituents of the synapse as they acquire the ability to rapidly grow their axons. Pharmacogenetic reduction of neuronal excitability stimulated axon regeneration after adult spinal cord injury. Genetic gain- and loss-of-function experiments uncovered that essential synaptic vesicle priming proteins of the presynaptic active zone, but not clostridial-toxin-sensitive VAMP-family SNARE proteins, inhibit axon regeneration. Systemic administration of Baclofen reduced voltage-dependent Ca2+ influx in primary sensory neurons and promoted their regeneration after spinal cord injury. These findings indicate that functional presynaptic active zones constitute a major barrier to axon regeneration.
Project description:After a dorsal root crush injury, centrally-projecting sensory axons fail to regenerate across the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) to extend into the spinal cord. We find that chemogenetic activation of adult dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons improves axon growth on an in vitro model of the inhibitory environment after injury. Moreover, repeated bouts of daily chemogenetic activation of adult DRG neurons for 12 weeks post-crush in vivo enhances axon regeneration across a chondroitinase-digested DREZ into spinal gray matter, where the regenerating axons form functional synapses and mediate behavioral recovery in a sensorimotor task. Neuronal activation-mediated axon extension is dependent upon changes in the status of tubulin post-translational modifications indicative of highly dynamic microtubules (as opposed to stable microtubules) within the distal axon, illuminating a novel mechanism underlying stimulation-mediated axon growth. We have identified an effective combinatory strategy to promote functionally-relevant axon regeneration of adult neurons into the CNS after injury.
Project description:Unlike CNS neurons in adult mammals, neurons in fish and embryonic mammals can regenerate their axons after injury. These divergent regenerative responses are in part mediated by the growth-associated expression of select transcription factors. The basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor, MASH1/Ascl1a, is transiently expressed during the development of many neuronal subtypes and regulates the expression of genes that mediate cell fate determination and differentiation. In the adult zebrafish (Danio rerio), Ascl1a is also transiently expressed in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) that regenerate axons after optic nerve crush. Utilizing transgenic zebrafish with a 3.6 kb GAP43 promoter that drives expression of an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP), we observed that knock-down of Ascl1a expression reduces both regenerative gap43 gene expression and axonal growth after injury compared to controls. In mammals, the development of noradrenergic brainstem neurons requires MASH1 expression. In contrast to zebrafish RGCs, however, MASH1 is not expressed in the mammalian brainstem after spinal cord injury (SCI). Therefore, we utilized adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors to overexpress MASH1 in four month old rat (Rattus norvegicus) brainstem neurons in an attempt to promote axon regeneration after SCI. We discovered that after complete transection of the thoracic spinal cord and implantation of a Schwann cell bridge, animals that express MASH1 exhibit increased noradrenergic axon regeneration and improvement in hindlimb joint movements compared to controls. Together these data demonstrate that MASH1/Ascl1a is a fundamental regulator of axonal growth across vertebrates and can induce modifications to the intrinsic state of neurons to promote functional regeneration in response to CNS injury.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Newts have the remarkable ability to regenerate their spinal cords as adults. Their spinal cords regenerate with the regenerating tail after tail amputation, as well as after a gap-inducing spinal cord injury (SCI), such as a complete transection. While most studies on newt spinal cord regeneration have focused on events occurring after tail amputation, less attention has been given to events occurring after an SCI, a context that is more relevant to human SCI. Our goal was to use modern labeling and imaging techniques to observe axons regenerating across a complete transection injury and determine how cells and the extracellular matrix in the injury site might contribute to the regenerative process.<h4>Results</h4>We identify stages of axon regeneration following a spinal cord transection and find that axon regrowth across the lesion appears to be enabled, in part, because meningeal cells and glia form a permissive environment for axon regeneration. Meningeal and endothelial cells regenerate into the lesion first and are associated with a loose extracellular matrix that allows axon growth cone migration. This matrix, paradoxically, consists of both permissive and inhibitory proteins. Axons grow into the injury site next and are closely associated with meningeal cells and glial processes extending from cell bodies surrounding the central canal. Later, ependymal tubes lined with glia extend into the lesion as well. Finally, the meningeal cells, axons, and glia move as a unit to close the gap in the spinal cord. After crossing the injury site, axons travel through white matter to reach synaptic targets, and though ascending axons regenerate, sensory axons do not appear to be among them. This entire regenerative process occurs even in the presence of an inflammatory response.<h4>Conclusions</h4>These data reveal, in detail, the cellular and extracellular events that occur during newt spinal cord regeneration after a transection injury and uncover an important role for meningeal and glial cells in facilitating axon regeneration. Given that these cell types interact to form inhibitory barriers in mammals, identifying the mechanisms underlying their permissive behaviors in the newt will provide new insights for improving spinal cord regeneration in mammals.
Project description:Injured axons fail to regenerate in the adult CNS, which contrasts with their vigorous growth during embryonic development. We explored the potential of re-initiating axon extension after injury by reactivating the molecular mechanisms that drive morphogenetic transformation of neurons during development. Genetic loss- and gain-of-function experiments followed by time-lapse microscopy, in vivo imaging, and whole-mount analysis show that axon regeneration is fueled by elevated actin turnover. Actin depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin controls actin turnover to sustain axon regeneration after spinal cord injury through its actin-severing activity. This pinpoints ADF/cofilin as a key regulator of axon growth competence, irrespective of developmental stage. These findings reveal the central role of actin dynamics regulation in this process and elucidate a core mechanism underlying axon growth after CNS trauma. Thereby, neurons maintain the capacity to stimulate developmental programs during adult life, expanding their potential for plasticity. Thus, actin turnover is a key process for future regenerative interventions.
Project description:Despite the essential role of the corticospinal tract (CST) in controlling voluntary movements, successful regeneration of large numbers of injured CST axons beyond a spinal cord lesion has never been achieved. We found that PTEN/mTOR are critical for controlling the regenerative capacity of mouse corticospinal neurons. After development, the regrowth potential of CST axons was lost and this was accompanied by a downregulation of mTOR activity in corticospinal neurons. Axonal injury further diminished neuronal mTOR activity in these neurons. Forced upregulation of mTOR activity in corticospinal neurons by conditional deletion of Pten, a negative regulator of mTOR, enhanced compensatory sprouting of uninjured CST axons and enabled successful regeneration of a cohort of injured CST axons past a spinal cord lesion. Furthermore, these regenerating CST axons possessed the ability to reform synapses in spinal segments distal to the injury. Thus, modulating neuronal intrinsic PTEN/mTOR activity represents a potential therapeutic strategy for promoting axon regeneration and functional repair after adult spinal cord injury.
Project description:Spinal cord injury leads to persistent behavioral deficits because mammalian central nervous system axons fail to regenerate. A neuron's response to axon injury results from a complex interplay of neuron-intrinsic and environmental factors. The contribution of axotomy to the death of neurons in spinal cord injury is controversial because very remote axotomy is unlikely to result in neuronal death, whereas death of neurons near an injury may reflect environmental factors such as ischemia and inflammation. In lampreys, axotomy due to spinal cord injury results in delayed apoptosis of spinal-projecting neurons in the brain, beyond the extent of these environmental factors. This retrograde apoptosis correlates with delayed resealing of the axon, and can be reversed by inducing rapid membrane resealing with polyethylene glycol. Studies in mammals also suggest that polyethylene glycol may be neuroprotective, although the mechanism(s) remain unclear. This review examines the early, mechanical, responses to axon injury in both mammals and lampreys, and the potential of polyethylene glycol to reduce injury-induced pathology. Identifying the mechanisms underlying a neuron's response to axotomy will potentially reveal new therapeutic targets to enhance regeneration and functional recovery in humans with spinal cord injury.
Project description:Axons fail to regenerate in the injured spinal cord, limiting motor and autonomic recovery and contributing to long-term morbidity. Endogenous inhibitors, including those on residual myelin, contribute to regeneration failure. One inhibitor, myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG), binds to sialoglycans and other receptors on axons. MAG inhibition of axon outgrowth in some neurons is reversed by treatment with sialidase, an enzyme that hydrolyzes sialic acids and eliminates MAG-sialoglycan binding. We delivered recombinant sialidase intrathecally to rats following a spinal cord contusive injury. Sialidase (or saline solution) was infused to the injury site continuously for 2 wk and then motor behavior, autonomic physiology, and anatomic outcomes were determined 3 wk later. Sialidase treatment significantly enhanced hindlimb motor function, improved bulbospinally mediated autonomic reflexes, and increased axon sprouting. These findings validate sialoglycans as therapeutic targets and sialidase as a candidate therapy for spinal cord injury.
Project description:A central hypothesis for the limited capacity for adult central nervous system (CNS) axons to regenerate is the presence of myelin-derived axon growth inhibitors, the role of which, however, remains poorly understood. We have conducted a comprehensive genetic analysis of the three major myelin inhibitors, Nogo, MAG, and OMgp, in injury-induced axonal growth, including compensatory sprouting of uninjured axons and regeneration of injured axons. While deleting any one inhibitor in mice enhanced sprouting of corticospinal or raphespinal serotonergic axons, there was neither associated behavioral improvement nor a synergistic effect of deleting all three inhibitors. Furthermore, triple-mutant mice failed to exhibit enhanced regeneration of either axonal tract after spinal cord injury. Our data indicate that while Nogo, MAG, and OMgp may modulate axon sprouting, they do not play a central role in CNS axon regeneration failure.
Project description:Axon growth potential is highest in young neurons but diminishes with age, thus becoming a significant obstacle to axonal regeneration after injury in maturity. The mechanism for the decline is incompletely understood, and no effective clinical treatment is available to rekindle innate growth capability. Here, we show that Smad1-dependent bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling is developmentally regulated and governs axonal growth in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. Down-regulation of the pathway contributes to the age-related decline of the axon growth potential. Reactivating Smad1 selectively in adult DRG neurons results in sensory axon regeneration in a mouse model of spinal cord injury (SCI). Smad1 signaling can be effectively manipulated by an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector encoding BMP4 delivered by a clinically applicable and minimally invasive technique, an approach devoid of unwanted abnormalities in mechanosensation or pain perception. Importantly, transected axons are able to regenerate even when the AAV treatment is delivered after SCI, thus mimicking a clinically relevant scenario. Together, our results identify a therapeutic target to promote axonal regeneration after SCI.
Project description:Paralysis following spinal cord injury (SCI) is due to interruption of axons and their failure to regenerate. It has been suggested that the small GTPase RhoA may be an intracellular signaling convergence point for several types of growth-inhibiting extracellular molecules. Even if this is true in vitro, it is not clear from studies in mammalian SCI, whether the effects of RhoA manipulations on axon growth in vivo are due to a RhoA-mediated inhibition of true regeneration or only of collateral sprouting from spared axons, since work on SCI generally is performed with partial injury models. RhoA also has been implicated in local neuronal apoptosis after SCI, but whether this reflects an effect on axotomy-induced cell death or an effect on other pathological mechanisms is not known. In order to resolve these ambiguities, we studied the effects of RhoA knockdown in the sea lamprey central nervous system (CNS), where after complete spinal cord transection (TX), robust but incomplete regeneration of large axons belonging to individually identified reticulospinal (RS) neurons occurs, and where some RS neurons show unambiguous delayed retrograde apoptosis after axotomy. RhoA protein was detected in neurons and axons of the lamprey brain and spinal cord, and its expression was increased post-TX. Knockdown of RhoA in vivo by retrogradely-delivered morpholino antisense oligonucleotides (MOs) to the RS neurons significantly reduced retrograde apoptosis signaling in identified RS neurons post-SCI, as indicated by Fluorochrome Labeled Inhibitor of Caspases (FLICA) in brain wholemounts. In individual RS neurons, the reduction of caspase activation by RhoA knockdown began at 2weeks post-TX and was still seen at 8weeks. RhoA knockdown slowed axon retraction and possibly increased early axon regeneration in the proximal stump. The number of axons regenerating beyond the lesion more than 5mm at 10weeks post-TX also was increased. Thus RhoA knockdown both enhanced true axon regeneration and inhibited retrograde apoptosis signaling after SCI.