Inactivation of intracellular Rho to stimulate axon growth and regeneration

Prog Brain Res. 2002;137:371-80. doi: 10.1016/s0079-6123(02)37028-6.


Our studies indicate that the small GTPase Rho is an important intracellular target for promoting axon regrowth after injury. In tissue culture, inactivation of the Rho signaling pathway is effective in promoting neurite growth on growth inhibitory CNS substrates by two different methods: inactivation of Rho with C3 transferase, and inactivation by dominant negative mutation of Rho. In vivo, we have documented the regeneration of transfected axons after treatment with C3 in two different animals models, microcrush lesion of the adult rat optic nerve, and over-hemisection of adult mouse spinal cord. Mice treated with C3 after SCI showed impressive functional recovery, notwithstanding the fact that mice differ from rats in their response to spinal cord injury, especially in the extent of cavitation at the lesion site (Steward et al., 1999). It remains to be determined to what extent the regeneration of specific descending and ascending spinal axons contribute to the recovery, and whether inactivation of Rho enhances the spontaneous plasticity of axonal and dendritic remodeling after SCI. Inactivation of Rho with C3 to promote regeneration and functional recovery after SCI is simple, and our studies reveal the potential for a new, straightforward technique to promote axon regeneration.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology*
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*


  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins