Immediate early gene expression in axotomized and regenerating retinal ganglion cells of the adult rat.
To determine if axotomy-induced immediate early gene (IEG) expression accompanies regenerative efforts in central nervous system (CNS) neurons, immunohistochemistry using antibodies to c-Jun, JunD, JunB, c-Fos, FosB and Krox-24 proteins was used to examine gene expression in identified adult rat retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) under two conditions: (1) after axotomy alone, and (2) 1 month after replacement of the optic nerve with an autologous peripheral nerve graft to allow axonal regrowth. Strong RGC c-Jun expression was induced 1 day, but not 3 h, after axotomy in most RGCs and was maintained in surviving cells throughout the 3-week study period. Axotomy also induced a limited number of RGCs to express Krox-24, but only transiently. c-Fos expression was also seen in a limited number of control RGCs, however, it was not induced by axotomy. Nucleolar FosB immunoreactivity in axotomized RGCs persisted 1 day after axotomy, but was subsequently lost. One month after axotomy and peripheral nerve graft placement, identified RGCs with regrown axons showed only nuclear c-Jun and nucleolar FosB expression. These findings support a role for IEG expression in the regeneration process of CNS neurons.
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