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J Comp Neurol. 2009 Mar 1;513(1):51-68. doi: 10.1002/cne.21944.

Expression of the regeneration-associated protein SPRR1A in primary sensory neurons and spinal cord of the adult mouse following peripheral and central injury.

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Neurorestoration Group, Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, Wolfson Wing, King's College London, London Bridge, London.


Small proline-rich repeat protein 1A (SPRR1A) is expressed in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons following peripheral nerve injury but it is not known whether SPRR1A is differentially expressed following injury to peripheral versus central DRG projections and a detailed characterization of expression in sensory neuron subpopulations and spinal cord has not been performed. Here we use immunocytochemical techniques to characterize SPRR1A expression following sciatic nerve, dorsal root, and dorsal column injury in adult mice. SPRR1A was not detected in naïve spinal cord, DRG, or peripheral nerves and there was minimal expression following injury to the centrally projecting branches of DRG neurons. However, following peripheral (sciatic) nerve injury, intense SPRR1A immunoreactivity was observed in the dorsal horn and motoneurons of the spinal cord, in L4/5 DRG neurons, and in the injured nerve. A time-course study comparing expression following sciatic nerve crush and transection revealed maximum SPRR1A levels at day 7 in both models. However, while SPRR1A was downregulated to baseline by 30 days postlesion following crush injury, it remained elevated 30 days after transection. Cell-size and double-labeling studies revealed that SPRR1A was expressed by DRG cells of all sizes and colocalized with classical markers of DRG subpopulations and their primary afferent terminals. High coexpression of SPRR1A with activating transcription factor-3 and growth-associated protein-43 was observed, indicating that it is expressed by injured and regenerating neurons. This study supports the hypothesis that SPRR1A is a regeneration-associated gene and that SPRR1A provides a valuable marker to assess the regenerative potential of injured neurons.

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