Prolonged recycling of internalized neurotrophins in the nerve terminal.
BACKGROUND: Neurons require contact with their target tissue in order to survive and make correct connections. The retrograde axonal transport of neurotrophins occurs after receptor-mediated endocytosis into vesicles at the nerve terminal. However, the mechanism by which the neurotrophin signal is propagated from axon terminal to cell body remains unclear. METHODS: Retrograde axonal transport was examined using the transport of I(125)-labeled neurotrophins from the eye to sympathetic and sensory ganglia. The phenomena was further studied by adding rhodamine-labeled nerve growth factor (NGF) to cultures of dissociated sympathetic ganglia and the movement of organelles followed with the aid of video microscopy. RESULTS: I(125)-labeled neurotrophins were transported from the eye to the sympathetic and sensory ganglia. A 100-fold excess of unlabeled neurotrophin, administered up to 4 h after the labeled material, completely prevented accumulation of labeled neurotrophin in the ganglia. The effect was specific for the labeled neurotrophin as administration of a high concentration of a different neurotrophin failed to inhibit the transport. In dissociated cultures, we found rapid binding of label, to surface membrane receptors, followed by an accumulation of labeled vesicles in the growth cone. Incubation of these cultures with unlabeled NGF led to a rapid loss of label in the growth cones. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that there is a pool of internalized neurotrophin, in vesicles in the nerve terminal, which is in rapid equilibrium with the external environment. It is from this pool that a small fraction of the neurotrophin-containing vesicles is targeted for retrograde transport. Potential models for this system are presented.
Cellular Nervous System