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Exp Neurol. 2001 Mar;168(1):105-15.

Expression of netrin-1 and its receptors DCC and UNC-5H2 after axotomy and during regeneration of adult rat retinal ganglion cells.

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Département de pathologie et biologie cellulaire, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7.


Netrins are a family of chemotropic factors that guide axon outgrowth during development; however, their function in the adult CNS remains to be established. We examined the expression of the netrin receptors DCC and UNC5H2 in adult rat retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) after grafting a peripheral nerve (PN) to the transected optic nerve and following optic nerve transection alone. In situ hybridization revealed that both Dcc and Unc5h2 mRNAs are expressed by normal adult RGCs. In addition, netrin-1 was found to be constitutively expressed by RGCs. Quantitative analysis using in situ hybridization demonstrated that both Dcc and Unc5h2 were down-regulated by RGCs following axotomy. In the presence of an attached PN graft, Dcc and Unc5h2 were similarly down-regulated in surviving RGCs regardless of their success in regenerating an axon. Northern blot analysis demonstrated expression of netrin-1 in both optic and sciatic nerve, and Western blot analysis revealed the presence of netrin protein in both nerves. Immunohistochemical analysis indicated that netrin protein was closely associated with glial cells in the optic nerve. These results suggest that netrin-1, DCC, and UNC5H2 may contribute to regulating the regenerative capacity of adult RGCs.

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