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1.  Single vesicle imaging indicates distinct modes of rapid membrane retrieval during nerve growth 
BMC Biology  2012;10:4.
Background
During nerve growth, cytoplasmic vesicles add new membrane preferentially to the growth cone located at the distal tip of extending axons. Growth cone membrane is also retrieved locally, and asymmetric retrieval facilitates membrane remodeling during growth cone repulsion by a chemorepellent gradient. Moreover, growth inhibitory factors can stimulate bulk membrane retrieval and induce growth cone collapse. Despite these functional insights, the processes mediating local membrane remodeling during axon extension remain poorly defined.
Results
To investigate the spatial and temporal dynamics of membrane retrieval in actively extending growth cones, we have used a transient labeling and optical recording method that can resolve single vesicle events. Live-cell confocal imaging revealed rapid membrane retrieval by distinct endocytic modes based on spatial distribution in Xenopus spinal neuron growth cones. These modes include endocytic "hot-spots" triggered at the base of filopodia, at the lateral margins of lamellipodia, and along dorsal ridges of the growth cone. Additionally, waves of endocytosis were induced when individual filopodia detached from the substrate and fused with the growth cone dorsal surface or with other filopodia. Vesicle formation at sites of membrane remodeling by self-contact required F-actin polymerization. Moreover, bulk membrane retrieval by macroendocytosis correlated positively with the substrate-dependent rate of axon extension and required the function of Rho-family GTPases.
Conclusions
This study provides insight into the dynamic membrane remodeling processes essential for nerve growth by identifying several distinct modes of rapid membrane retrieval in the growth cone during axon extension. We found that endocytic membrane retrieval is intensified at specific subdomains and may drive the dynamic membrane ruffling and re-absorption of filopodia and lamellipodia in actively extending growth cones. The findings offer a platform for determining the molecular mechanisms of distinct endocytic processes that may remodel the surface distribution of receptors, ion channels and other membrane-associated proteins locally to drive growth cone extension and chemotactic guidance.
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-10-4
PMCID: PMC3337222  PMID: 22289422
2.  Bidirectional remodeling of β1-integrin adhesions during chemotropic regulation of nerve growth 
BMC Biology  2011;9:82.
Background
Chemotropic factors in the extracellular microenvironment guide nerve growth by acting on the growth cone located at the tip of extending axons. Growth cone extension requires the coordination of cytoskeleton-dependent membrane protrusion and dynamic adhesion to the extracellular matrix, yet how chemotropic factors regulate these events remains an outstanding question. We demonstrated previously that the inhibitory factor myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) triggers endocytic removal of the adhesion receptor β1-integrin from the growth cone surface membrane to negatively remodel substrate adhesions during chemorepulsion. Here, we tested how a neurotrophin might affect integrin adhesions.
Results
We report that brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) positively regulates the formation of substrate adhesions in axonal growth cones during stimulated outgrowth and prevents removal of β1-integrin adhesions by MAG. Treatment of Xenopus spinal neurons with BDNF rapidly triggered β1-integrin clustering and induced the dynamic formation of nascent vinculin-containing adhesion complexes in the growth cone periphery. Both the formation of nascent β1-integrin adhesions and the stimulation of axon extension by BDNF required cytoplasmic calcium ion signaling and integrin activation at the cell surface. Exposure to MAG decreased the number of β1-integrin adhesions in the growth cone during inhibition of axon extension. In contrast, the BDNF-induced adhesions were resistant to negative remodeling by MAG, correlating with the ability of BDNF pretreatment to counteract MAG-inhibition of axon extension. Pre-exposure to MAG prevented the BDNF-induced formation of β1-integrin adhesions and blocked the stimulation of axon extension by BDNF.
Conclusions
Altogether, these findings demonstrate the neurotrophin-dependent formation of integrin-based adhesions in the growth cone and reveal how a positive regulator of substrate adhesions can block the negative remodeling and growth inhibitory effects of MAG. Such bidirectional remodeling may allow the growth cone to rapidly adjust adhesiveness to the extracellular matrix as a general mechanism for governing axon extension. Techniques for manipulating integrin internalization and activation state may be important for overcoming local inhibitory factors after traumatic injury or neurodegenerative disease to enhance regenerative nerve growth.
doi:10.1186/1741-7007-9-82
PMCID: PMC3283487  PMID: 22126462

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