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J Cell Sci Suppl. 1991;15:85-95.

Involvement of neurofilaments in the radial growth of axons.

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  • 1Department of Biological Chemistry, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205.

Abstract

The control of radial growth of axons is of functional importance because caliber is a principal determinant of conduction velocity in myelinated nerve fibers. Neurofilaments, the major cytoskeletal protein in myelinated nerves, appear to be intrinsic determinants of caliber. Evidence supporting this derives first from the linear relationship between neurofilament content and axonal diameter. Further, following distal axonal injury in a peripheral nerve, caliber is reduced in the proximal axonal stumps. This reduction in caliber is itself due to selective suppression of neurofilament gene expression, thereby leading to lower levels of newly synthesized neurofilament subunits transported into the axon and a consequent decrease in axonal neurofilament content. To demonstrate directly the physiological consequence of altering normal neurofilament accumulation, we have elevated neurofilament expression by introducing additional genes into transgenic mice. The clear result is that increases in NF-L content alone are not sufficient to increase axonal caliber. To test the consequence of disruption of normal filament accumulation, we have identified dominant assembly-disrupting mutants in NF-L and NF-M and have used these to produce transgenic animals in which neurofilament assembly should be disrupted.

PMID:
1824110
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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