Explants from embryonic rat retina plated on Schwann cell monolayers were used to examine the mechanisms by which these central neurons interact with Schwann cell surfaces. Embryonic retinal explants extend neurites reliably on Schwann cell surfaces (Kleitman et al., 1988, J. Neurosci. 8: 653). Antibodies to molecules thought to be present on Schwann cell surfaces (laminin and the 217C antigen), on retinal neurite surfaces (Thy-1.1), or on both surfaces (L1) were tested for their ability to influence this neurite growth. Of these, only antibodies to L1 were effective in blocking retinal neurite extension on Schwann cells. Inhibition of neurite growth by anti-L1 was shown to be specific to growth on Schwann cell surfaces because neurite growth on air-dried collagen (a substratum known to support retinal neurite outgrowth) was not affected. This blockage was dose-dependent. At a low titer of anti-L1 Fab fragments defasciculation of neurites was prominent; at high titers 95% of neurite outgrowth was inhibited. This virtual elimination of the ability of Schwann cell surfaces to support embryonic retinal neurite growth in the presence of antibodies to L1 indicates that binding of the L1 molecule is a critical component of the mechanism by which Schwann cells foster the growth of these neurites. The present experiments concur with the growing body of evidence that L1 plays an important role in supporting neurite growth on cell surfaces and raise the possibility that L1 may also mediate the striking ability of adult retinal axons to regenerate in a peripheral nerve environment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental Neuroscience