Bridging the gap: Axonal fusion drives rapid functional recovery of the nervous system

Jean-Sébastien Teoh, Michelle Yu-Ying Wong, Tarika Vijayaraghavan, Brent Neumann

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Injuries to the central or peripheral nervous system frequently cause long-term disabilities because damaged neurons are unable to efficiently self-repair. This inherent deficiency necessitates the need for new treatment options aimed at restoring lost function to patients. Compared to humans, a number of species possess far greater regenerative capabilities, and can therefore provide important insights into how our own nervous systems can be repaired. In particular, several invertebrate species have been shown to rapidly initiate regeneration post-injury, allowing separated axon segments to re-join. This process, known as axonal fusion, represents a highly efficient repair mechanism as a regrowing axon needs to only bridge the site of damage and fuse with its separated counterpart in order to re-establish its original structure. Our recent findings in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans have expanded the promise of axonal fusion by demonstrating that it can restore complete function to damaged neurons. Moreover, we revealed the importance of injury-induced changes in the composition of the axonal membrane for mediating axonal fusion, and discovered that the level of axonal fusion can be enhanced by promoting a neuron's intrinsic growth potential. A complete understanding of the molecular mechanisms controlling axonal fusion may permit similar approaches to be applied in a clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-594
Number of pages4
JournalNeural Regeneration Research
Volume13
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

Keywords

  • axon regeneration
  • Axonal fusion
  • axonal transport
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • functional repair
  • nerve injury
  • nervous system repair
  • phosphatidylserine

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