Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 2703–2713 | Cite as

Distal Axonal Proteins and Their Related MiRNAs in Cultured Cortical Neurons

  • Chao Li
  • Yi Zhang
  • Albert M. Levin
  • Bao Yan Fan
  • Hua Teng
  • Moleca M. Ghannam
  • Michael Chopp
  • Zheng Gang ZhangEmail author


Proteins and microRNAs (miRNAs) within the axon locally regulate axonal development. However, protein profiles of distal axons of cortical neurons have not been fully investigated. In particular, networks of genes encoding axonal proteins and their related miRNAs in sub compartments of neurons such as axons remain unknown. Using embryonic cortical neurons cultured in a microfluidic device and proteomic approaches, we found that distal axons contain 883 proteins. Bioinformatics analysis revealed that 94 out of these 883 proteins are related to regulating axonal growth. Of the 94 genes encoding these proteins, there were 56 candidate genes that can be putatively targeted by axon-enriched 62 miRNAs with 8mer sites that exactly match these target genes. Among them, we validated 11 proteins and 11 miRNAs, by means of western blot and RT-PCR, respectively. Treatment of distal axons with chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) that inhibit axonal growth elevated miR-133b, -203a, -29a, and -92a, which were associated with reduced protein level of AKT, MTOR, PI3K, DPYSL2, MAP1B, and PPP2CA. In contrast, reduction of miR-128, -15b, -195, -26b, -34b, -376b, and -381 by CSPGs was accompanied by increased EZR, KIF5A, DCX, GSK3B, and ROCK2 proteins. In silico pathway analysis revealed an interconnected network of these miRNAs and protein coding genes that is highly related to regulating axonal growth. Our data provide new insights into networks of miRNAs and their related proteins in distal axons in mediating axonal growth.


Axonal growth Axonal proteins and MiRNAs Bioinformatics 


Author Contribution

Conceived and designed the experiments: C.L. and Z.Z. Performed the experiments: C.L., Y.Z., M.G., H.T., and B.F. Analyzed the data: C.L., A.L., and Z.Z. Prepared all the figures: C.L., Y.Z., and Z.Z. Wrote the manuscript: C.L., A.L., M.C., and Z.Z.

Funding information

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (RO1 NS088656 and RO1 NS75156) and American Heart Association (16SDG29860003).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The study was carried out in accordance with the NIH Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory. Animals were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Henry Ford Hospital.

Competing Interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyHenry Ford HospitalDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Department of Public Health SciencesHenry Ford HospitalDetroitUSA
  3. 3.Center of BioinformaticsHenry Ford HospitalDetroitUSA
  4. 4.Oakland University William Beaumont School of MedicineRoyal OakUSA
  5. 5.Department of PhysicsOakland UniversityRochesterUSA

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