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Brain Res January 23, 2009; 1250 27-40.

Transcriptional and translational dynamics of light neurofilament subunit RNAs during Xenopus laevis optic nerve regeneration.

Ananthakrishnan L , Szaro BG .

Neurofilaments (NFs), which comprise one of three cytoskeletal polymers of vertebrate axons, are heteropolymers of multiple NF subunit proteins. During Xenopus laevis optic nerve regeneration, NF subunit composition undergoes progressive changes that correlate with regenerative success. Understanding the relative contributions of transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene regulatory mechanisms to these changes should therefore provide insights into the control of the axonal growth program. Previously, we examined this issue with respect to the medium neurofilament protein (NF-M). Because the integrity of NF heteropolymers depends upon maintaining properly balanced expression among multiple subunits, we have now extended this analysis to include the four light NF subunits - peripherin, the light NF triplet protein (NF-L), and two additional alpha-internexin-like proteins. Within 3 days after an optic nerve crush injury to one eye, primary transcript levels of NF subunits increased in both eyes. Levels of mRNA, however, increased in only the operated eye and did so later than did increases in primary transcript, indicating that mRNA levels are under significant post-transcriptional regulation. As measured by polysome profiling, the translational efficiencies of individual NF subunit mRNAs also shifted throughout regeneration, with operated eye mRNAs being generally more translationally active than those of unoperated eyes. Also, in operated eyes, the precise mix of efficiently and poorly translated messages throughout regeneration varied independently for each subunit, indicating that their translations are fine-tuned separately. These results suggest a model whereby traumatic disruption of visual circuitry leads to increased expression of NF primary transcripts in both eyes. These increases are subsequently modulated post-transcriptionally to accommodate shifting demands at each phase of regeneration for NF heteropolymers of differing composition in regrowing axons.

PubMed ID: 19027722
Article link: Brain Res

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: nefl nefm prph