AXON-TO-CELL-BODY SIGNALING EFFECTS ON NEURONAL MRNA LEVELS USING BRAIN-DERIVED NEUROTROPHIC FACTOR
Yacouba Sidibe1, Orlangie Natera2, Bill Mobley2.
1Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, 2University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA.
Neurons are complex, polarized cells with subcellular domains that vary in morphology and function and rely on extracellular cues for survival. There is limited information, however, regarding the molecular mechanism responsible for axon growth induced by one such cue, brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF). Through a series of experiments, this investigation measured changes in the levels of certain messenger RNAs (mRNAs) in both the axon and cell body of neurons, as they respond to retrograde (axon-to-cell-body) BDNF signaling. We hypothesized that BDNF is responsible for up regulating mRNA transcripts of proteins that aid in the facilitation of axonal maintenance and growth. To demonstrate this, cultures containing neurons from the hippocampus of embryonic rats were prepared. An apparatus allowing microfluidic separation of axons from their cell bodies was employed. After one week in vitro, the experimental group was treated with BDNF. Using quantitative PCR, changes were recorded in the levels of mRNAs coding for cytoskeletal and structural proteins between groups. If supported, these findings will enrich our understanding of neuronal signaling and how it may relate to diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Down's syndrome.