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Neuroscience. 2009 Dec 1;164(2):478-87. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2009.08.049. Epub 2009 Aug 28.

Expression of Wnt receptors in adult spiral ganglion neurons: frizzled 9 localization at growth cones of regenerating neurites.

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Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


Little is known about signaling pathways, besides those of neurotrophic factors, that are operational in adult spiral ganglion neurons. In patients with sensorineural hearing loss, such pathways could eventually be targeted to stimulate and guide neurite outgrowth from the remnants of the spiral ganglion towards a cochlear implant, thereby improving the fidelity of sound transmission. To systematically identify neuronal receptors for guidance cues in the adult cochlea, we conducted a genome-wide cDNA microarray screen with 2-month-old CBA/CaJ mice. A meta-analysis of our data and those from older mice in two other studies revealed the presence of neuronal transmembrane receptors that represent all four established guidance pathways--ephrin, netrin, semaphorin, and slit--in the mature cochlea as late as 15 months. In addition, we observed the expression of all known receptors for the "wingless-related MMTV integration site" (Wnt) morphogens, whose neuronal guidance function has only recently been recognized. In situ hybridizations located the mRNAs of the Wnt receptors frizzled 1, 4, 6, 9, and 10 specifically in adult spiral ganglion neurons. Finally, frizzled 9 protein was found in the growth cones of adult spiral ganglion neurons that were regenerating neurites in culture. We conclude from our results that adult spiral ganglion neurons are poised to respond to neurite damage, owing to the constitutive expression of a large and diverse collection of guidance receptors. Wnt signaling, in particular, emerges as a candidate pathway for guiding neurite outgrowth towards a cochlear implant after sensorineural hearing loss.

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