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J Neurosci. 1997 Dec 1;17(23):9026-34.

Dendroaxonal transcytosis of transferrin in cultured hippocampal and sympathetic neurons.

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Cell Biology Programme, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany.


Previous studies using overexpressed polymeric immunoglobulin receptor in cultured neurons have suggested that these cells may use a dendroaxonal transcytotic pathway (Ikonen et al., 1993; de Hoop et al., 1995). By using a combination of semiquantitative light microscopy, video microscopy, and a biochemical assay, we show that this pathway is used by the endogenous ligand transferrin (Tf) and its receptor. Labeled Tf added to fully mature hippocampal neurons changes the intracellular distribution of its receptor from preferentially dendritic shortly after addition to dendritic and axonal at longer times. Incubation of living neurons with (caged)FITC-Tf followed by uncaging in the dendrites results in the later appearance of fluorescence in the axon of the same cell. In "chambered" sympathetic neurons in culture, 125I-Tf or iron as 55Fe-Tf added to the cell body/dendrite chamber is recovered in the axonal chamber, showing that internalized ligand from the cell body-dendrite area is released at the axonal end. Finally, we show that excitatory neurotransmitters increase Tf receptor transcytosis, whereas inhibitory neurotransmitters reduce it. The dendritic uptake, transcytotic transport, and axonal release of physiologically active Tf demonstrated here could be envisioned for other trophic factors and therefore have important consequences for neuronal anterograde target maturation. Moreover, the changes in transcytosis after neurotransmitter addition may be important in the cellular responses that follow electrical activation.

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