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J Neurochem. 2006 Oct;99(1):13-9. Epub 2006 Aug 8.

Retrograde signaling in injured nerve--the axon reaction revisited.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, Weizmann Institute of Science, 76100 Rehovot, Israel.


Injury to axons elicits changes in macromolecule synthesis in the corresponding cell bodies that are critical for an effective regenerative response. For decades the most easily studied aspect of this phenomenon was the onset of chromatolysis, a suite of structural changes in the cell body characterized by swelling, shifting of the nucleus and dispersal of Nissl bodies. The question: 'what is the signal for chromatolysis?' received no less than 10 possible answers in a comprehensive review article published more than three decades ago. Here we come back to this 36 years old question, and review progress on understanding the mechanism of retrograde injury signaling in lesioned peripheral nerves. Recent work suggests that this is based on local axonal synthesis of critical carrier proteins, including importins and vimentin that link diverse signaling molecules to the dynein retrograde motor. A multiplicity of binding sites and of potential signaling molecules, including transcription factors and MAP kinases (Erk, Jnk), may allow diverse options for information-rich encoding of the injury status of the axon for transmission to the cell body.

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