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J Neurosci. 1997 Sep 1;17(17):6575-86.

Adenoviral vector-mediated expression of B-50/GAP-43 induces alterations in the membrane organization of olfactory axon terminals in vivo.

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Graduate School Neurosciences Amsterdam, Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, 1105 AZ Amsterdam-ZO, The Netherlands.


B-50/GAP-43 is an intraneuronal membrane-associated growth cone protein with an important role in axonal growth and regeneration. By using adenoviral vector-directed expression of B-50/GAP-43 we studied the morphogenic action of B-50/GAP-43 in mature primary olfactory neurons that have established functional synaptic connections. B-50/GAP-43 induced gradual alterations in the morphology of olfactory synapses. In the first days after overexpression, small protrusions originating from the preterminal axon shaft and from the actual synaptic bouton were formed. With time the progressive formation of multiple ultraterminal branches resulted in axonal labyrinths composed of tightly packed sheaths of neuronal membrane. Thus, B-50/GAP-43 is a protein that can promote neuronal membrane expansion at synaptic boutons. This function of B-50/GAP-43 suggests that this protein may subserve an important role in ongoing structural synaptic plasticity in adult neurons and in neuronal membrane repair after injury to synaptic fields.

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