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Wlds protection distinguishes axon degeneration following injury from naturally occurring developmental pruning.

Hoopfer E.D., McLaughlin T., Watts R.J., Schuldiner O., O'Leary D.D., Luo L.

Axon pruning by degeneration remodels exuberant axonal connections and is widely required for the development of proper circuitry in the nervous system from insects to mammals. Developmental axon degeneration morphologically resembles injury-induced Wallerian degeneration, suggesting similar underlying mechanisms. As previously reported for mice, we show that Wlds protein substantially delays Wallerian degeneration in flies. Surprisingly, Wlds has no effect on naturally occurring developmental axon degeneration in flies or mice, although it protects against injury-induced degeneration of the same axons at the same developmental age. By contrast, the ubiquitin-proteasome system is intrinsically required for both developmental and injury-induced axon degeneration. We also show that the glial cell surface receptor Draper is required for efficient clearance of axon fragments during developmental axon degeneration, similar to its function in injury-induced degeneration. Thus, mechanistically, naturally occurring developmental axon pruning by degeneration and injury-induced axon degeneration differ significantly in early steps, but may converge onto a common execution pathway.

Neuron 50:883-895(2006) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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