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Neuroscience. 2000;97(4):735-42.

Transforming growth factor-beta 2 is anterogradely and retrogradely transported in motoneurons and up-regulated after nerve injury.

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Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


The survival of motoneurons is dependent on them receiving continual trophic support from muscle fibres and various other cell types. Numerous putative survival factors have been identified and a set of criteria established by which these candidates can be assessed. These criteria include the need for the factor and its receptors to be in appropriate locations and for the factor or its second message to be retrogradely transported. In this paper, we demonstrate that a multifunctional cytokine, transforming growth factor-beta 2, appears to meet these criteria. The locations of the transforming growth factor-beta 2 and its receptors in the neuromuscular system were determined by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. Motoneurons were shown to synthesize the three proteins involved in transforming growth factor-beta 2 signalling (types I and II transforming growth factor-beta receptor and betaglycan) and to transport them anterogradely, where they were inserted into the axonal membrane and nerve terminal. Transforming growth factor-beta 2 was detected in the synaptic portions of muscle fibres, motoneurons and in injured nerves, indicating that motoneurons may be exposed to multiple and potentially redundant sources of transforming growth factor-beta 2. Double-ligation experiments were used to demonstrate that motoneurons transport transforming growth factor-beta 2 up and down their axons. The anterograde transport of both transforming growth factor-beta 2 and its receptors, coupled with the fact that most of a motoneuron's mitochondria are located in the axon, raises the issue of whether the repression of the initiation of apoptosis is restricted to the cell body or occurs along the entire length of a neuron.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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