Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Unlike many neurons that extend an axon precisely to a single target, individual dorsal raphe 5-HT neurons project to multiple brain regions and their axon terminals often lack classical synaptic specializations. It is not known how 5-HT axon collaterals select between multiple target fields, or even if 5-HT axons require specific guidance cues to innervate their targets. Nor is it known how these axon collaterals are restrained within specific innervation target regions. To investigate this, we challenged explants of dorsal raphe with co-explants, or cell membrane preparations of ventral midbrain, striatum or cerebral cortex. We provide evidence for membrane-associated cues that promote 5-HT axon growth into each of these three target regions. The axon growth-promoting activity was heat-, protease- and phosphatidylinositol-phospholipase-C (PI-PLC)-sensitive. Interestingly, 5-HT axons specifically lost the ability to grow in heterotypic explants, or membrane carpets, following contact with ventral midbrain or striatal, but not cortical, explants or membranes. This inductive activity associated with striatal and ventral midbrain membranes was sensitive to both high salt extraction and PI-PLC treatment. By contrast, the activity that inhibited 5-HT axon growth onto heterotypic membranes was sensitive only to high salt extraction. These results provide evidence that a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-linked membrane protein promotes 5-HT axon growth, and that short-range membrane-bound, as well as GPI-linked, molecules contribute to the guidance of 5-HT axon collaterals. These findings suggest that 5-HT axon collaterals acquire a target-induced growth-inhibitory response to alternative targets, increasing their selectivity for the newly innervated field.
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