Mammalian Growth Cone Turning Assays Identify Distinct Cell Signalling Mechanisms That Underlie Axon Growth, Guidance and Regeneration
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The cell signalling mechanisms underlying mammalian central nervous system axon growth and guidance change during development, such that axons that establish appropriate connectivity in the embryo fail to regenerate after injury to the adult nervous system. The growth cone turning assay has been used in Xenopus neurons to elucidate mechanisms of axon guidance during development. Here, we describe how we have adapted this assay for rat dorsal root ganglion neurons to study the influence of extracellular secreted factors causing growth cone attraction and repulsion. Additionally, we describe how this method can be combined with small interfering RNA and cDNA transfections to manipulate protein expression in growth cones, and fluorescence resonance energy transfer to monitor the activity of signalling pathways in live neurons. This assay provides the unique ability to manipulate and visualise the internal status of growth cone signalling whilst challenged with extracellular chemotropic signalling molecules, and can be used to develop strategies to promote axon regeneration in the mature mammalian central nervous system.
Key wordsAxon guidance Regeneration Growth cone Turning assay Fluorescence resonance energy transfer Cell signalling cAMP
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