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Dev Dyn. 1992 Feb;193(2):103-15.

Reorganization of the ependyma during axolotl spinal cord regeneration: changes in intermediate filament and fibronectin expression.

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Department of Biology, Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis 46202-5132.


Changes in intermediate filament content and extracellular matrix material showed that the injury response of ependymal cells in lesioned axolotl spinal cord involves an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transformation, and that fibrous astrocytes are excluded from the remodeling lesion site. Antibody localization was used to visualize cytokeratin-, vimentin-, and glial fibrillary acidic protein- (GFAP-) containing intermediate filaments, as well as the adhesive glycoprotein fibronectin. In normal axolotl spinal cord cytokeratins were found near the apical surface of the ependymal cells. Transmission electron microscopic examination suggested that these cytokeratins were in tonofilaments. Cytokeratin expression was lost and vimentin production was initiated in ependymal cells 2-3 weeks following spinal cord injury. There was a period of approximately 1-2 weeks when cytokeratins and vimentin were co-expressed in vivo. This co-expression was maintained in vitro by culture on a fibronectin-coated substratum. As the central canal reformed, vimentin expression was lost. Ependymal cells lacked GFAP intermediate filaments, but GFAP was present in fibrous astrocytes of the neuropil and white matter. Following injury, GFAP localization showed that fibrous astrocytes disappeared from the remodeling lesion site and reappeared only after the ependymal epithelium reformed and newly myelinated axons were found. Fibronectin expression closely followed the expression of vimentin during mesenchymal ependymal cell outgrowth. These results suggest that the ependymal cell outgrowth requires changes in cell shape followed by changes in production of extracellular matrix.

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