Clusterin and Megalin in The Spinal Cord
Abstract: Nerve injury induces up-regulation of the chaperone protein clusterin in affected neurons and adjacent astrocytes but the functional significance of this response is unclear. We find that motor neuron survival is significantly greater in clusterin(+/+) compared to (-/-) mice. These results suggest that endogenous expression of clusterin is neuroprotective after nerve injury. However, motor neuron survival in clusterin overexpressing mice was not different from that in wildtype mice. In contrast, treatment of neuronal cultures with clusterin-TAT recombinant protein is neuroprotective, including a positive effect on neuronal network complexity.Since extracellular clusterin complexes are endocytosed after binding to various receptors, we examined the expression of known clusterin binding receptors in the spinal cord. We find that megalin is expressed in the nuclei of two cell populations in the mouse spinal cord: i) oligodendrocytes in late postnatal and adult spinal cord white matter, and ii) transiently (E11-15) in a population of immature astrocytes in the dorsal spinal cord. We find no correlation between clusterin and megalin in the intact or injured spinal cord. However, intranuclear localization of megalin, suggesting signalling properties, is supported by the co-localization with ?-secretase, the enzyme responsible for endodomain cleavage of megalin. Megalin deficient mice display a pronounced deformation of the dorsal part of spinal cord, an almost complete absence of oligodendroglial progenitor cells, and a marked reduction in the population of mature astrocytes at later prenatal developmental stages.Taken together, our findings indicate that megalin is a novel signalling molecule for distinct populations of glial cells in the pre- and postnatal spinal cord. The functional role(s) of megalin is unknown. However, its expression patterns and cellular localization suggest that megalin regulates differentiation of oligodendrocytes and astrocytes in the prenatal spinal cord, as well as the function of myelinating oligodendrocytes in the postnatal spinal cord.
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