Null mutations for exon III and exon IV of the p75 neurotrophin receptor gene enhance sympathetic sprouting in response to elevated levels of nerve growth factor in transgenic mice.
ABSTRACT Under normal conditions, expression of the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) by sympathetic neurons can increase the affinity of the signaling receptor, trkA, to target-derived nerve growth factor (NGF) at distal axons. We have previously reported that sprouting of sympathetic axons into NGF-rich target tissues is enhanced when p75NTR expression is perturbed, leading to the postulate that p75NTR may restrain sympathetic sprouting in response to elevated NGF levels. These observations were made using mice having a null mutation of the third p75NTR exon, a line that may express a hypomorphic form of this receptor. Since mice carrying a null mutation of the fourth p75NTR exon may not express a similar splice variant, we sought to determine whether these animals possess the same phenotype of enhanced sympathetic sprouting in response to elevated levels of NGF. Both lines of transgenic mice lacking p75NTR displayed similar degrees of sympathetic axonal sprouting into the cerebellum and trigeminal ganglia, two target tissues having elevated levels of NGF protein. Furthermore, the densities of sympathetic axons in both targets were significantly greater than those observed in age-matched NGF transgenic siblings expressing full-length p75NTR. Our new findings provide a comparative analysis of the phenotype in two independent mutations of the same neurotrophin receptor, revealing that p75NTR plays an important role in restricting sympathetic sprouting in response to higher NGF levels.
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ABSTRACT: The mechanisms that regulate the pruning of mammalian axons are just now being elucidated. Here, we describe a mechanism by which, during developmental sympathetic axon competition, winning axons secrete brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in an activity-dependent fashion, which binds to the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) on losing axons to cause their degeneration and, ultimately, axon pruning. Specifically, we found that pruning of rat and mouse sympathetic axons that project to the eye requires both activity-dependent BDNF and p75NTR. p75NTR and BDNF are also essential for activity-dependent axon pruning in culture, where they mediate pruning by directly causing axon degeneration. p75NTR, which is enriched in losing axons, causes axonal degeneration by suppressing TrkA-mediated signaling that is essential for axonal maintenance. These data provide a mechanism that explains how active axons can eliminate less-active, competing axons during developmental pruning by directly promoting p75NTR-mediated axonal degeneration.Nature Neuroscience 07/2008; 11(6):649-58. · 15.53 Impact Factor