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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/11262

Title: Molecular Mechanisms Regulating Developmental Axon Pruning
Authors: Singh, Karun
Advisor: Miller, Freda
Department: Medical Science
Keywords: Neural Development
Neurotrophic Factors
Axon Pruning
Issue Date: 1-Aug-2008
Abstract: The formation of neural connections in the mammalian nervous system is a complex process. During development, axons are initially overproduced and compete for limited quantities of target-derived growth factors. Axons which participate in functional circuits and secure appropriate amounts of growth factors are stabilized, while those axons that are either inappropriately connected or do not obtain sufficient concentrations of growth factors are eliminated in a process termed ‘axon pruning’. In this thesis, I examined the mechanisms that regulate pruning of peripheral, NGF-dependent sympathetic neurons that project to the eye. I determined that pruning of these projections in vivo requires the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) and synthesis of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) from the activity-dependent exon IV promoter. Furthermore, analysis of an in vitro model of axon competition, which is regulated by the interplay between nerve growth factor (NGF) and neuronal activity, revealed that p75NTR and BDNF are also essential for axon competition in culture. In this model, in the presence of NGF, neural activity confers a competitive growth advantage to stimulated, active axons by enhancing downstream TrkA (NGF receptor) signaling locally in axons. More interestingly, the unstimulated, inactive axons deriving from the same and neighboring neurons acquire a "growth disadvantage" due to secreted BDNF acting through p75NTR, which induces axon degeneration by suppressing TrkA signaling that is essential for axonal integrity. These data support a model where, during developmental axon competition, successful axons secrete BDNF in an activity-dependent fashion which activates p75NTR on unsuccessful neighboring axons, suppressing TrkA signaling, and ultimately promoting pruning by a degenerative mechanism.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/11262
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Institute of Medical Science - Doctoral theses

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