The adult, mammalian CNS does not regenerate after injury largely because of a glial scar and inhibitors of regeneration in myelin. To date, two myelin inhibitors, myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) and Nogo, both transmembrane proteins, have been identified. No secreted inhibitors of regeneration have been described. However, a proteolytic fragment of MAG (dMAG), consisting of the entire extracellular domain, is readily released from myelin and is found in vivo. Here, we show, first, that a soluble, chimeric form of MAG (MAG-Fc), when secreted from CHO cells in a collagen gel and hence in the absence of a fixed substrate, inhibits/deflects neurite outgrowth from P6 dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. This inhibition was blocked when a MAG monoclonal antibody was included in the gel and a control chimera sialoadhesin-Fc (Sn-Fc), which, like MAG, binds neurons in a sialic acid-dependent manner but does not inhibit axonal growth, had no effect. Using the same assay system we showed that factors secreted from damaged white matter inhibited/deflected neurite outgrowth. This inhibition was neutralized when a MAG monoclonal antibody was included in the gel and there was no inhibition when white matter from a MAG knockout mouse was used. Factors secreted from damaged white matter from wild-type mice had no effect on neurite outgrowth from E18 DRG neurons. These results show that factors secreted from damaged white matter inhibit axonal regeneration and that the majority of inhibitory activity can be accounted for by dMAG. Thus, released dMAG is likely to play an important role in preventing regeneration, immediately after injury before the glial scar forms.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.