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Exp Eye Res. 2007 Nov;85(5):678-83. Epub 2007 Aug 8.

Induction of axon and dendrite formation during early RGC-5 cell differentiation.

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Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, USA.


The retinal ganglion cell (RGC)-like RGC-5 line can be differentiated with staurosporine to stop dividing, extend neurites, and increase levels of several ganglion cell markers. This allows study of regulation of neurite development on a single cell basis. However, it is unclear whether the neurites induced by differentiation have features characteristic of dendrites or axons. To address this question, RGC-5 cells were differentiated with staurosporine and then immunoblotted for microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2) and actin, or stained immunocytochemically for different MAP2 isoforms, tau, growth-associated protein 43 (GAP-43), or the neuronal marker beta-III-tubulin. We found that staurosporine-induced differentiation led to an upregulation of MAP2c, a MAP2 isoform expressed in developing neurons. Some neurites expressed MAP2c but not the dendritic markers MAP2a and MAP2b, consistent with an axonal phenotype. Some neurites expressed the axonal marker tau in a characteristic proximal-to-distal gradient, and had GAP-43 labeling characteristic of axonal growth cones. The presence of MAP2c in differentiated RGC-5 cells is indicative of RGC-like neurite development, and the pattern of staining for the different MAP2 isoforms, as well as positivity for tau and GAP-43, indicates that differentiation induces axon-like and dendrite-like neurites.

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