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Expressing Constitutively Active Rheb in Adult Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurons Enhances the Integration of Sensory Axons that Regenerate Across a Chondroitinase-Treated Dorsal Root Entry Zone Following Dorsal Root Crush



Expressing Constitutively Active Rheb in Adult Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurons Enhances the Integration of Sensory Axons that Regenerate Across a Chondroitinase-Treated Dorsal Root Entry Zone Following Dorsal Root Crush



Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience 9: 49



While the peripheral branch of dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRG) can successfully regenerate after injury, lesioned central branch axons fail to regrow across the dorsal root entry zone (DREZ), the interface between the dorsal root and the spinal cord. This lack of regeneration is due to the limited regenerative capacity of adult sensory axons and the growth-inhibitory environment at the DREZ, which is similar to that found in the glial scar after a central nervous system (CNS) injury. We hypothesized that transduction of adult DRG neurons using adeno-associated virus (AAV) to express a constitutively-active form of the GTPase Rheb (caRheb) will increase their intrinsic growth potential after a dorsal root crush. Additionally, we posited that if we combined that approach with digestion of upregulated chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPG) at the DREZ with chondroitinase ABC (ChABC), we would promote regeneration of sensory axons across the DREZ into the spinal cord. We first assessed if this strategy promotes neuritic growth in an in vitro model of the glial scar containing CSPG. ChABC allowed for some regeneration across the once potently inhibitory substrate. Combining ChABC treatment with expression of caRheb in DRG significantly improved this growth. We then determined if this combination strategy also enhanced regeneration through the DREZ after dorsal root crush in adult rats in vivo. After unilaterally crushing C4-T1 dorsal roots, we injected AAV5-caRheb or AAV5-GFP into the ipsilateral C5-C8 DRGs. ChABC or PBS was injected into the ipsilateral dorsal horn at C5-C8 to digest CSPG, for a total of four animal groups (caRheb + ChABC, caRheb + PBS, GFP + ChABC, GFP + PBS). Regeneration was rarely observed in PBS-treated animals, whereas short-distance regrowth across the DREZ was observed in ChABC-treated animals. No difference in axon number or length between the ChABC groups was observed, which may be related to intraganglionic inflammation induced by the injection. ChABC-mediated regeneration is functional, as stimulation of ipsilateral median and ulnar nerves induced neuronal c-Fos expression in deafferented dorsal horn in both ChABC groups. Interestingly, caRheb + ChABC animals had significantly more c-Fos(+) nuclei indicating that caRheb expression in DRGs promoted functional synaptogenesis of their axons that regenerated beyond a ChABC-treated DREZ.

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Accession: 057841473

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PMID: 27458339

DOI: 10.3389/fnmol.2016.00049


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