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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Extracellular matrix-associated gene expression in adult sensory neuron populations cultured on a laminin substrate

Neva J Fudge and Karen M Mearow*

Author Affiliations

Division of BioMedical Sciences, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, Canada

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BMC Neuroscience 2013, 14:15  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-15

Published: 30 January 2013

Abstract

Background

In our previous investigations of the role of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in promoting neurite growth we have observed that a permissive laminin (LN) substrate stimulates differential growth responses in subpopulations of mature dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. DRG neurons expressing Trk and p75 receptors grow neurites on a LN substrate in the absence of neurotrophins, while isolectin B4-binding neurons (IB4+) do not display significant growth under the same conditions. We set out to determine whether there was an expression signature of the LN-induced neurite growth phenotype. Using a lectin binding protocol IB4+ neurons were isolated from dissociated DRG neurons, creating two groups - IB4+ and IB4-. A small-scale microarray approach was employed to screen the expression of a panel of ECM-associated genes following dissociation (t=0) and after 24 hr culture on LN (t=24LN). This was followed by qRT-PCR and immunocytochemistry of selected genes.

Results

The microarray screen showed that 36 of the 144 genes on the arrays were consistently expressed by the neurons. The array analyses showed that six genes had lower expression in the IB4+ neurons compared to the IB4- cells at t=0 (CTSH, Icam1, Itgβ1, Lamb1, Plat, Spp1), and one gene was expressed at higher levels in the IB4+ cells (Plaur). qRT-PCR was carried out as an independent assessment of the array results. There were discrepancies between the two methods, with qRT-PCR confirming the differences in Lamb1, Plat and Plaur, and showing decreased expression of AdamTs1, FN, and Icam in the IB4+ cells at t=0. After 24 hr culture on LN, there were no significant differences detected by qRT-PCR

    between
the IB4+ and IB4- cells. However, both groups showed upregulation of Itgβ1 and Plaur after 24 hr on LN, the IB4+ group also had increased Plat, and the IB4- cells showed decreased Lamb1, Icam1 and AdamTs1. Further, the array screen also detected a number of genes (not subjected to qRT-PCR) expressed similarly by both populations in relatively high levels but not detectably influenced by time in culture (Bsg, Cst3, Ctsb, Ctsd, Ctsl, Mmp14, Mmp19, Sparc. We carried out immunohistochemistry to confirm expression of proteins encoded by a number of these genes.

Conclusions

Our results show that 1B4+ and IB4- neurons differ in the expression of several genes that are associated with responsiveness to the ECM prior to culturing (AdamTs1, FN, Icam1, Lamb1, Plat, Plaur). The data suggest that the genes expressed at higher levels in the IB4- neurons could contribute to the initial growth response of these cells in a permissive environment and could also represent a common injury response that subsequently promotes axon regeneration. The differential expression of several extracellular matrix molecules (FN, Lamb1, Icam) may suggest that the IB4- neurons are capable of maintaining /secreting their local extracellular environment which could aid in the regenerative process. Overall, these data provide new information on potential targets that could be manipulated to enhance axonal regeneration in the mature nervous system.

Keywords:
Peripheral nervous system; Dorsal root ganglion; Sensory neurons; Regeneration; Neurite growth; Extracellular matrix; Laminin; IB4; Microarray; Gene expression