Event Abstract

Molecular characterisation of axonal fusion, a highly efficient means of nervous system repair

  • 1 Monash University, Neuroscience Program, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Australia
  • 2 The University of Queensland, Queensland Brain Institute, Australia
  • 3 University of Colorado, Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, United States

To achieve functional regeneration after injury, damaged axons must regrow and re-establish connection with their original target tissue. A spontaneous regenerative mechanism known as axonal fusion provides an efficient means of achieving this: a regrowing axon is able to contact and fuse with its own separated axon fragment, thereby re-establishing the original axonal tract. Using a UV-laser to transect individual axons in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans,/i>, we define the dynamics of axonal fusion and uncover the molecular mechanisms responsible for the process. We find that regenerative axonal fusion shares much of its molecular machinery with that involved in the process of apoptosis. Following axonal transection, the normal phospholipid asymmetry of the plasma membrane is lost, causing the membrane lipid phosphatidylserine (PS), which is normally restricted to the cytoplasmic leaflet, to be externalised and to function as a ‘save me’ signal for recognition between the regrowing axon and its separated fragment. We found that specific secreted ligands bind to the exposed PS, allowing for its recognition through interactions with specific receptors expressed on the regrowing axon. Following reconnection, the two axonal membranes are fused together by the actions of the fusogen molecule EFF-1. Thus, we have found that conserved apoptotic cell clearance molecules function to efficiently repair the damaged nervous system.

Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans, Regeneration, phosphatidylserine, Axonal fusion, nervous system repair

Conference: 14th Meeting of the Asian-Pacific Society for Neurochemistry, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 27 Aug - 30 Aug, 2016.

Presentation Type: YIC06: Young Investigator Colloquium 6

Topic: 14th Meeting of the Asian-Pacific Society for Neurochemistry

Citation: Neumann B, Coakley S, Giordano-Santini R, Abay ZC, Linton C, Seung Lee E, Nakagawa A, Xue D and Hilliard MA (2016). Molecular characterisation of axonal fusion, a highly efficient means of nervous system repair. Front. Cell. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: 14th Meeting of the Asian-Pacific Society for Neurochemistry. doi: 10.3389/conf.fncel.2016.36.00073

Received: 04 Aug 2016; Published Online: 11 Aug 2016.

* Correspondence: Dr. Brent Neumann, Monash University, Neuroscience Program, Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute and Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, brent.neumann@monash.edu

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