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J Neurochem. 2005 Mar;92(5):1044-53.

Axonal transport of the cellular prion protein is increased during axon regeneration.

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Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique-Centre National de Recherche Scientifique Unité de Recherche Associeé URA 2210, Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot, DRM/DSV, Orsay, France.


The cellular prion protein, PrPc, is a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored cell surface glycoprotein and a protease-resistant conformer of the protein may be the infectious agent in transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. PrPc is localized on growing axons in vitro and along fibre bundles that contain elongating axons in developing and adult brain. To determine whether the growth state of axons influenced the expression and axonal transport of PrPc, we examined changes in the protein following post-traumatic regeneration in the hamster sciatic nerve. Our results show (1) that PrPc in nerve is significantly increased during nerve regeneration; (2) that this increase involves an increase in axonally transported PrPc; and (3) that the PrPc preferentially targeted for the newly formed portions of the regenerating axons consists of higher molecular weight glycoforms. These results raise the possibility that PrPc may play a role in the growth of axons in vivo, perhaps as an adhesion molecule interacting with the extracellular environment through specialized glycosylation.

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