Spinal cord injury results in permanent sensorimotor loss in mammals, in part due to a lack of injury-induced neurogenesis. The regeneration of neurons depends upon resident neural progenitors, which in zebrafish persist throughout the central nervous system as radial glia. However the molecular mechanisms regulating spinal cord progenitors remain uncharacterized. Wnt/ß-catenin signaling is necessary for the regenerative response of multiple tissues in zebrafish as well as other vertebrates, but it is not known whether the pathway has a role in spinal cord regeneration. Here we show that spinal radial glia exhibit Wnt/ß-catenin activity as they undergo neurogenesis following transection. We then use Cre-mediated lineage tracing to label the progeny of radial glia and show that Wnt/ß-catenin signaling is required for progenitors to differentiate into neurons. Finally, we show that axonal regrowth after injury also requires Wnt/ß-catenin signaling, suggesting coordinated roles for the pathway in functional recovery. Our data thus establish Wnt/ß-catenin pathway activation as a necessary step in spinal cord regeneration.
Keywords: Injury; Radial glia; Regeneration; Spinal cord; Wnt; Zebrafish.
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