Wnt signaling induces neurite outgrowth in mouse retinal ganglion cells

Exp Eye Res. 2019 May;182:39-43. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2019.03.004. Epub 2019 Mar 14.


Wingless-type (Wnt) signaling pathways mediate axonal growth and remodeling in the embryonic optic nerve, brain and spinal cord. Recent studies demonstrated that the canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway also induces axonal regeneration after injury in the optic nerve of adult animals. However, the molecular mechanisms of Wnt-mediated axonal growth are not well understood. Additionally, because Wnt signaling is stimulated in neurons as well as neighboring non-neuronal cells, the cell type(s) responsible for Wnt-induced axonal regeneration are not known. The objectives of this study were to investigate potential mechanisms and target cells of Wnt3a stimulated neurite growth using primary retinal ganglion cell (RGC) cultures. We demonstrated that Wnt3a ligand induced dose-dependent increases in average neurite length and number of neurites in RGCs. QPCR analysis of candidate mediators showed that Wnt3a-dependent neurite growth was associated with lower expression of Ripk1 and Ripk3 genes. Additionally, inhibiting Ripk1 signaling with Necrostatin-1s led to increased neurite number per cell but not increased neurite length. Therefore, Ripk signaling may be involved in mediating the effects of Wnt3a on neurite number but Ripk activity does not seem to be required for Wnt3a-dependent regulation of neurite length. This study shows that RGCs are direct cellular targets of Wnt3a-induced axonal growth, and we identified a novel association between Wnt signaling and Rip kinases in neurite formation.

Keywords: Axon; Neurite growth; Retina; Retinal ganglion cell; Ripk1; Wnt signaling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Mice
  • Neuronal Outgrowth / physiology*
  • Optic Nerve Injuries / genetics*
  • Optic Nerve Injuries / metabolism
  • RNA / genetics*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / metabolism*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / pathology
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / genetics*
  • Wnt3A Protein / biosynthesis
  • Wnt3A Protein / genetics*


  • Wnt3A Protein
  • Wnt3a protein, mouse
  • RNA