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J Comp Neurol. 2000 Nov 6;427(1):54-66.

Absence of p75(NTR) expression reduces nerve growth factor immunolocalization in cholinergic septal neurons.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6, Canada.


Septal axons provide a cholinergic innervation to the nerve growth factor (NGF)-producing neurons of the mammalian hippocampus. These cholinergic septal afferents are capable of responding to target-derived NGF because they possess trkA and p75(NTR), the two transmembrane receptors that bind NGF and activate ligand-mediated intracellular signaling. To assess the relative importance of p75(NTR) expression for the responsiveness of cholinergic septal neurons to hippocampally derived NGF, we used three lines of mutant and/or transgenic mice: p75(-/-) mice (having two mutated alleles of the p75(NTR) gene), NGF/p75(+/+) mice (transgenic animals overexpressing NGF within central glial cells and having two normal alleles of the p75(NTR) gene), and NGF/p75(-/-) mice (NGF transgenic animals having two mutated alleles of the p75(NTR) gene). BALB/c and C57B1/6 mice (background strains for the mutant and transgenic lines of mice) were used as controls. Both lines of NGF transgenic mice possess elevated levels of NGF protein in the hippocampus and septal region, irrespective of p75(NTR) expression. BALB/c and C57Bl/6 mice display comparably lower levels of NGF protein in both tissues. Despite differing levels of NGF protein, the ratios of hippocampal to septal NGF levels are similar among BALB/c, C57B1/6, and NGF/p75(+/+) mice. Both p75(-/-) and NGF/p75(-/-) mice, on the other hand, have markedly elevated ratios of NGF protein between these two tissues. The lack of p75(NTR) expression also results in a pronounced absence of NGF immunoreactivity in cholinergic septal neurons of p75(-/-) and NGF/p75(-/-) mice. BALB/c, C57B1/6, and NGF/p75(+/+) mice, on the other hand, display NGF immunoreactivity that appears as discrete granules scattered through the cytoplasm of cholinergic septal neurons. Elevated levels of NGF in the hippocampus and septal region coincide with hypertrophy of cholinergic septal neurons of NGF/p75(+/+) mice but not of NGF/p75(-/-) mice. Levels of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) enzyme activity are, however, elevated in the septal region and hippocampus of both NGF/p75(+/+) and NGF/p75(-/-) mice, compared with control mice. These data indicate that an absence of functional p75(NTR) expression disrupts the normal cellular immunolocalization of NGF by cholinergic septal neurons but does not affect the ability of these neurons to respond to elevated levels of NGF, as determined by ChAT activity.

Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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