While neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) have the capacity to regenerate their axons after injury, they fail to do so, in part because regeneration is limited by growth inhibitory proteins present in CNS myelin. Myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) was the first myelin-derived growth inhibitory protein identified, and its inhibitory activity was initially elucidated in 1994 independently by the Filbin lab and the McKerracher lab using cell-based and biochemical techniques, respectively. Since that time we have gained a wealth of knowledge concerning the numerous growth inhibitory proteins that are present in myelin, and we also have dissected many of the neuronal signaling pathways that act as stop signs for axon regeneration. Here we give an overview of the early research efforts that led to the identification of myelin-derived growth inhibitory proteins, and the importance of this family of proteins for understanding neurotrauma and CNS diseases. We further provide an update on how this knowledge has been translated towards current clinical studies in regenerative medicine.
Keywords: Nogo; Rho; axon regeneration; myelin; myelin-associated glycoprotein; myelin-derived inhibitors; neurotrauma.