Insight into the proteins regulating the regrowth of axons – the signal-transmitting fibres of neurons – after injury
Unlike the neurons in the central nervous system (CNS), those outside the brain and spinal cord – the peripheral nervous system (PNS) – can regenerate their ‘electrical cable’-like fibres (axons) after injury. Understanding how this happens could be of huge benefit for treating a range of conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury and others in both the CNS and PNS. Researchers have now discovered in mice that the levels of a protein called RSK1 are higher after sciatic nerve injury. Forcing neurons to over-produce RSK1, caused an increase in two proteins called BDNF and IGF1 that helped regrow the neuron’s axon. Here we see a ‘normal’ neuron (top left) and longer neurons with increased levels of RSK1 (top middle and right). By inhibiting either BDNF (bottom left), IGF1 (bottom middle) or both (bottom right), the regrowth of the axons was impaired, suggesting RSK1 is essential for regeneration of these signal-transmitting projections.
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