Neurons with enhanced intrinsic growth capabilities can elongate their axons into non-permissive territories, but the mechanisms that enable the outgrowing processes to overcome environmental inhibition are largely unknown. To address this issue, we examined adult mouse Purkinje cells that overexpress the axonal growth-associated protein GAP-43. After injury, these neurons exhibit sprouting along the intracortical neuritic course and at the severed stump in the white matter. To determine whether GAP-43-overexpressing Purkinje cells are responsive to extrinsic inhibitory cues, we investigated the content and subcellular localization of major receptors for myelin-associated inhibitory proteins, PlexinB1 and the Nogo receptor (NgR) with the related co-receptors LINGO-1 and p75. Expression of these molecules, estimated by measuring perikaryal immunostaining intensity and Western blot, was not different in wild-type or transgenic mice, and it was not overtly modified after axotomy. Following injury, however, the content of PlexinB1 was significantly reduced in GAP-43-overexpressing neurites. Furthermore, in the same axons the distribution of both PlexinB1 and NgR was altered, being inverse to that of GAP-43. Labelling for the two receptors was conspicuously reduced on the axonal surface and it was almost undetectable in the outgrowing sprouts, which showed strong GAP-43 immunoreactivity. These observations indicate that although GAP-43 overexpression does not modify the expression of receptors for myelin-associated inhibitory factors, it interferes with their subcellular localization and exposure on the neuritic membrane. Therefore, GAP-43 promotes axon growth by multiple synergistic mechanisms that potentiate the intrinsic motility of the elongating processes, while reducing their sensitivity to environmental inhibition. © 2009 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
- Axon regeneration
- Intrinsic neuronal growth properties
- Neuroscience (all)
- Structural plasticity