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Neuroscience. 1990;34(1):251-63.

Retrograde transneuronal transport properties of fragment C of tetanus toxin.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, State University of New York, Stony Brook 11794.


The atoxic fragment C of tetanus toxin reliably undergoes retrograde direct and transneuronal transport, but the full extent of its transport capabilities has not been examined. The primary visual pathways provide an excellent system for investigating, for the first time, the possibility of anterograde direct and transneuronal transport of fragment C. Following injection into the eye of the rat and rabbit, fragment C, localized with a monoclonal antibody, underwent anterograde direct transport to all retinorecipient areas. From these areas, fragment C exhibited retrograde transneuronal transport, strongly and reliably labeling regions that project to retinorecipient areas, including layers V and VI of visual cortex, the parabigeminal nucleus, the suprageniculate nucleus, and the reticular thalamus. In contrast, the absence of fragment C in regions receiving only input from, but not projecting to, retinorecipient areas, most notably layer IV of visual cortex, provides strong evidence for the lack of anterograde transneuronal transport. Thus, while fragment C can be induced to undergo anterograde direct transport by injection into the eye, it exhibits only retrograde transneuronal transport. These characteristics suggest that fragment C of tetanus toxin is a consistent and reliable retrograde transneuronal marker for the elucidation of central nervous pathways.

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