Nitric Oxide Synthesis and cGMP Production Is Important for Neurite Growth and Synapse Remodeling after Axotomy
journal contributionposted on 05.04.2013, 13:50 by Ria M. Cooke, Rajendra Mistry, R.A. John Challiss, Volko A. Straub
Nitric oxide (NO) is an important signaling molecule with a variety of functions in the CNS, including a potential role in modulating neuronal growth and synapse formation. In the present study, we used tractable, identified neurons in the CNS of the pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis to study the role of endogenous NO signaling in neuronal growth and synaptic remodeling after nerve injury. Axonal damage of L. stagnalis neurons B1 and B2 induces extensive central growth of neurites that is accompanied by changes in existing electrical connections, the transient formation of novel electrical connections, and the formation of a novel excitatory chemical synapse from B2 to B1 neurons. Partial chronic inhibition of endogenous NO synthesis reduces neurite growth in NO-synthase-expressing B2, but has only minor effects on NOS-negative B1 neurons. Chronic application of an NO donor while inhibiting endogenous NO synthesis rescues neurite extension in B2 neurons and boosts growth of B1 neurons. Blocking soluble guanylate cyclase activity completely suppresses neurite extension and synaptic remodeling after nerve crush, demonstrating the importance of cGMP in these processes. Interestingly, inhibition of cGMP-dependent protein kinase only suppresses chemical synapse formation without effects on neuronal growth and electrical synapse remodeling. We conclude that NO signaling via cGMP is an important modulator of both neurite growth and synaptic remodeling after nerve crush. However, differential effects of cGMP-dependent protein kinase inhibition on neurite growth and synaptic remodeling suggest that these effects are mediated by separate signaling pathways.