Recently, we showed that Schwann cells transfer ribosomes to injured axons. Here, we demonstrate that Schwann cells transfer ribosomes to regenerating axons in vivo. For this, we used lentiviral vector-mediated expression of ribosomal protein L4 and eGFP to label ribosomes in Schwann cells. Two approaches were followed. First, we transduced Schwann cells in vivo in the distal trunk of the sciatic nerve after a nerve crush. Seven days after the crush, 12% of regenerating axons contained fluorescent ribosomes. Second, we transduced Schwann cells in vitro that were subsequently injected into an acellular nerve graft that was inserted into the sciatic nerve. Fluorescent ribosomes were detected in regenerating axons up to 8 weeks after graft insertion. Together, these data indicate that regenerating axons receive ribosomes from Schwann cells and, furthermore, that Schwann cells may support local axonal protein synthesis by transferring protein synthetic machinery and mRNAs to these axons.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.