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The nuclear events guiding successful nerve regeneration

DOI: 10.3389/fnmol.2011.00053

Keywords: ATF3, c-Jun, STAT3, Sp1, DINE, transcription, axotomy, nerve injury

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Abstract:

Peripheral nervous system (PNS) neurons survive and regenerate after nerve injury, whereas central nervous system (CNS) neurons lack the capacity to do so. The inability of the CNS to regenerate presumably results from a lack of intrinsic growth activity and a permissive environment. To achieve CNS regeneration, we can learn from successful nerve regeneration in the PNS. Neurons in the PNS elicit dynamic changes in gene expression in response to permissive environmental cues following nerve injury. To switch gene expression on and off in injured neurons, transcription factors and their networks should be carefully orchestrated according to the regeneration program. This is the so-called “intrinsic power of axonal growth.” There is an increasing repertoire of candidate transcription factors induced by nerve injury. Some of them potentiate the survival and axonal regeneration of damaged neurons in vivo; however, our knowledge of transcriptional events in injured neurons is still limited. How do these transcription factors communicate with each other? How does the transcriptional machinery regulate the wide variety of regeneration-associated genes (RAGs) in the properly coordinated manner? In this review, we describe our current understanding of the injury-inducible transcriptional factors that enhance the intrinsic growth capacity, and propose a potential role for specificity protein 1 (Sp1), which provides a platform to recruit injury-inducible transcription factors, in simultaneous gene regulation. Finally, we discuss an additional mechanism that is involved in epigenetic modifications in damaged neurons. A comprehensive understanding of the nuclear events in injured neurons will provide clues to clinical interventions for successful nerve regeneration.

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