Neuron., Jul 2019

ADF/Cofilin-Mediated Actin Turnover Promotes Axon Regeneration in the Adult CNS.

Tedeschi A, Dupraz S, Curcio M, Laskowski CJ, Schaffran B, Flynn KC, Santos TE, Stern S, Hilton BJ, Larson MJE, Gurniak CB, Witke W, Bradke F


Injured axons fail to regenerate in the adult CNS, which contrasts with their vigorous growth during embryonic development. We explored the potential of re-initiating axon extension after injury by reactivating the molecular mechanisms that drive morphogenetic transformation of neurons during development. Genetic loss- and gain-of-function experiments followed by time-lapse microscopy, in vivo imaging, and whole-mount analysis show that axon regeneration is fueled by elevated actin turnover. Actin depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin controls actin turnover to sustain axon regeneration after spinal cord injury through its actin-severing activity. This pinpoints ADF/cofilin as a key regulator of axon growth competence, irrespective of developmental stage. These findings reveal the central role of actin dynamics regulation in this process and elucidate a core mechanism underlying axon growth after CNS trauma. Thereby, neurons maintain the capacity to stimulate developmental programs during adult life, expanding their potential for plasticity. Thus, actin turnover is a key process for future regenerative interventions.

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