Two Drosophila model neurons can regenerate axons from the stump or from a converted dendrite, with feedback between the two sites

Kavitha S. Rao, Melissa M. Rolls

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Background: After axon severing, neurons recover function by reinitiating axon outgrowth. New outgrowth often originates from the remaining axon stump. However, in many mammalian neurons, new axons initiate from a dendritic site when the axon is injured close to the cell body. Methods: Drosophila sensory neurons are ideal for studying neuronal injury responses because they can be injured reproducibly in a variety of genetic backgrounds. In Drosophila, it has been shown that a complex sensory neuron, ddaC, can regenerate an axon from a stump, and a simple sensory neuron, ddaE, can regenerate an axon from a dendrite. To provide a more complete picture of axon regeneration in these cell types, we performed additional injury types. Results: We found that ddaE neurons can initiate regeneration from an axon stump when a stump remains. We also showed that ddaC neurons regenerate from the dendrite when the axon is severed close to the cell body. We next demonstrated if a stump remains, new axons can originate from this site and a dendrite at the same time. Because cutting the axon close to the cell body results in growth of the new axon from a dendrite, and cutting further out may not, we asked whether the initial response in the cell body was similar after both types of injury. A transcriptional reporter for axon injury signaling, puc-GFP, increased with similar timing and levels after proximal and distal axotomy. However, changes in dendritic microtubule polarity differed in response to the two types of injury, and were influenced by the presence of a scar at the distal axotomy site. Conclusions: We conclude that both ddaE and ddaC can regenerate axons either from the stump or a dendrite, and that there is some feedback between the two sites that modulates dendritic microtubule polarity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15
JournalNeural Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 17 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Neuroscience

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