Neurotrophins support regenerative axon assembly over CSPGs by an ECM-integrin-independent mechanism

Feng Quan Zhou, Mark Walzer, Yao Hong Wu, Jiang Zhou, Shoukat Dedhar, William D. Snider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) and myelin-based inhibitors are the most studied inhibitory molecules in the adult central nervous system. Unlike myelin-based inhibitors, few studies have reported ways to overcome the inhibitory effect of CSPGs. Here, by using regenerating adult dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons, we show that chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans inhibit axon assembly by a different mechanism from myelin-based inhibitors. Furthermore, we show that neither Rho inhibition nor cAMP elevation rescues extracellular factor-induced axon assembly inhibited by CSPGs. Instead, our data suggest that CSPGs block axon assembly by interfering with integrin signaling. Surprisingly, we find that nerve growth factor (NGF) promotes robust axon growth of regenerating DRG neurons over CSPGs. We have found that, unlike naive neurons that require simultaneous activation of neurotrophin and integrin pathways for axon assembly, either neurotrophin or integrin signaling alone is sufficient to induce axon assembly of regenerating neurons. Thus, our results suggest that the ability of NGF to overcome CSPG inhibition in regenerating neurons is probably due to the ability of regenerating neurons to assemble axons using an integrin-independent pathway. Finally, our data show that the GSK-3β-APC pathway, previously shown to mediate developing axon growth, is also necessary for axon regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2787-2796
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Axon regeneration
  • CSPG
  • Integrin
  • Neurotrophin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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