Chinese medical journal

Nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase 1 gene NMNAT1 regulates neuronal dendrite and axon morphogenesis in vitro.

PMID 22088538


Wallerian degeneration is a self-destructive process of axonal degeneration that occurs after an axonal injury or during neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease. Recent studies have found that the activity of the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) synthase enzyme, nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase 1 (NMNAT1) can affect the rate of Wallerian degeneration in mice and drosophila. NMNAT1 protects neurons and axons from degeneration. However, the role of NMNAT1 in neurons of central nervous system is still not well understood. We set up the culture of primary mouse neurons in vitro and manipulated the expression level of NMNAT1 by RNA interference and gene overexpression methods. Using electroporation transfection we can up-regulate or down-regulate NMNAT1 in cultured mouse dendrites and axons and study the neuronal morphogenesis by immunocytochemistry. In all functional assays, FK-866 (CAS 658084-64-1), a highly specific non-competitive inhibitor of nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase was used as a pharmacological and positive control. Our results showed that knocking down NMNAT1 by RNA interference led to a marked decrease in dendrite outgrowth and branching and a significant decrease in axon growth and branching in developing cortical neurons in vitro. These findings reveal a novel role for NMNAT1 in the morphogenesis of developing cortical neurons, which indicate that the loss of function of NMNAT1 may contribute to different neurodegenerative disorders in central nervous system.