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J Neurocytol. 1991 May;20(5):365-75.

Weak-base amines inhibit the anterograde-to-retrograde conversion of axonally transported vesicles in nerve terminals.

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Department of Neurology, Ohio State University, College of Medicine, Columbus 43210.


Acidotropic weak-base amines were used to investigate the role of acidic compartments in the pathway of aterograde-to-retrograde conversion of axonally transported vesicles in axon terminals. A local concentrated population of nascent axon tips was produced by transecting the rat sciatic nerve in situ to allow local and direct exposure of the axon tips to test solutions. Immersion of the nascent axon tips in solutions containing 10 mM ammonium choloride or 10 mM propylamine caused the axon tips to become distended by an accumulation of elongated membranous tubules and occasional large vacuoles that were both distinct from retrograde organelles. To test whether this accumulation was the result of an impairment of anterograde-to-retrograde conversion, a radioactive pulse-labelling method was used together with a retrograde collection ligature, to quantify the proportion of anterogradely transported proteins that returned from the axon tips by retrograde transport. Exposure of the axon tips to 10 mM ammonium chloride caused the anterogradely transported membrane proteins to accumulate in the axon tips and reduced by about 50% the amount of protein that returned to the retrograde collection ligature. These observations implicate the involvement of acidic membranous compartments in the anterograde-to-retrograde conversion pathway that leads to the formation of retrograde organelles in axon tips. Exposure of nerves to Acridine Orange, which is a vital acidotropic fluorescent dye, confirmed the presence of acidic compartments in the axon tips. Based on these observations, we propose that the membranous tubules that accumulated in the axon tips in the presence of weak-base amines represent a transient intermediate in the pathway of anterograde-to-retrograde conversion of axonally transported vesicles in axon terminals, and that acidic membranous compartments within axon terminals are required for the conversion of these tubules into retrograde organelles.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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