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The Journal of biological chemistry

Metallothionein-I/II Promotes Axonal Regeneration in the Central Nervous System.


PMID 25947372

Abstract

The adult CNS does not spontaneously regenerate after injury, due in large part to myelin-associated inhibitors such as myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG), Nogo-A, and oligodendrocyte-myelin glycoprotein. All three inhibitors can interact with either the Nogo receptor complex or paired immunoglobulin-like receptor B. A conditioning lesion of the sciatic nerve allows the central processes of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons to spontaneously regenerate in vivo after a dorsal column lesion. After a conditioning lesion, DRG neurons are no longer inhibited by myelin, and this effect is cyclic AMP (cAMP)- and transcription-dependent. Using a microarray analysis, we identified several genes that are up-regulated both in adult DRGs after a conditioning lesion and in DRG neurons treated with cAMP analogues. One gene that was up-regulated under both conditions is metallothionein (MT)-I. We show here that treatment with two closely related isoforms of MT (MT-I/II) can overcome the inhibitory effects of both myelin and MAG for cortical, hippocampal, and DRG neurons. Intrathecal delivery of MT-I/II to adult DRGs also promotes neurite outgrowth in the presence of MAG. Adult DRGs from MT-I/II-deficient mice extend significantly shorter processes on MAG compared with wild-type DRG neurons, and regeneration of dorsal column axons does not occur after a conditioning lesion in MT-I/II-deficient mice. Furthermore, a single intravitreal injection of MT-I/II after optic nerve crush promotes axonal regeneration. Mechanistically, MT-I/II ability to overcome MAG-mediated inhibition is transcription-dependent, and MT-I/II can block the proteolytic activity of α-secretase and the activation of PKC and Rho in response to soluble MAG.