Under some circumstances neurons can be primed to rapidly regenerate injured neuritic processes independent of new gene expression. Such transcription-independent neurite extension occurs in adult rat sensory neurons cultured after sciatic nerve crush and in NGF-differentiated PC12 cells whose neurites have been mechanically sheared. In the PC12 cells, neurite regeneration occurs by means of translational control of mRNAs which were transcribed prior to neurite injury. The survival of such translationally regulated mRNAs is relatively short in the differentiated PC12 cells (< or =10 h). By subtractive hybridization, we have isolated a short-lived mRNA from differentiated PC12 cells. This mRNA, which encodes the ribosomal protein L4, is translationally regulated during neurite regeneration in PC12 cells. Antisense oligonucleotides to L4 mRNA inhibit neurite regeneration from the differentiated PC12 cells as well as axonal elongation from conditioned sensory neurons, indicating that ongoing translation of L4 mRNA is needed for these forms of rapid transcription-independent neurite growth. Taken together, these data point to the importance of translational regulation of existing neuronal mRNAs in the regenerative responses to neuronal injury. Although there are other examples of neuronal translational control, there are no other known neuronal proteins whose levels are regulated predominantly by translational rather than transcriptional control.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.