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Exp Cell Res. 1994 Feb;210(2):243-52.

Metalloproteinase-dependent neurite outgrowth within a synthetic extracellular matrix is induced by nerve growth factor.

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Department of Pediatrics and Neuroscience, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville 32610.


In order to assess the requirement for matrix metalloproteinases in neuronal regeneration, in vitro neurite outgrowth by chick dorsal root ganglionic neurons (DRGn) was examined within a reconstituted extracellular matrix. For these studies, cultured neurons were treated with a synthetic peptide inhibitor of metalloproteinases (spIMP), LMHKPRCGVPDVGG. spIMP inhibited all neuronal metalloproteinase activities in zymography and substrate-release assays and was used to examine the role of metalloproteinases in neurite outgrowth by DRGn. Cultures of dissociated DRGn rapidly extended neurites on planar extracellular matrix substrates and this rate of outgrowth was not affected by adding NGF or spIMP. In contrast, neurite extension within a three-dimensional gel of extracellular matrix increased nearly threefold after adding NGF. The NGF-induced neurite penetration was negated in the presence of spIMP but not by control peptide. Similar results were obtained using explanted dorsal root ganglia. These findings suggested that NGF-induced neurite outgrowth within an extracellular matrix involves metalloproteinase activity. Zymographic analysis of media conditioned by NGF-treated DRGn revealed a pair of gelatinolytic bands with apparent molecular masses 72 and 66 kDa, which comigrated as a single 66-kDa band after activation with an organomercurial agent. The gelatinase activities were calcium- and zinc-dependent and were absent from zymograms developed in the presence of spIMP, indicating that NGF-treated DRGn release and activate a 72-kDa metalloproteinase. Samples from DRGn cultures treated with low levels of NGF contained similar amounts of latent and activated metalloproteinase, while high levels of NGF induced an apparent increase in total metalloproteinase secretion and a substantially greater proportion of activated enzyme. Western blot analysis showed this metalloproteinase was immunologically similar to 72-kDa type IV collagenase and immunoassays revealed that this matrix metalloproteinase was increased threefold by high NGF. Furthermore, after high NGF treatment, DRGn media contained sixfold more metalloproteinase activity in assays of matrix degradation. In summary, these results indicate that NGF enhanced metalloproteinase-dependent neurite outgrowth of DRGn within a reconstituted extracellular matrix. Also, NGF increased the expression and activation of 72-kDa type IV collagenase, suggesting a role for this matrix-degrading metalloproteinase in neuronal regeneration.

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