Gene expression of axon growth promoting factors in the deer antler
Pita-Thomas, W and Fernandez-Martos, CM and Yunta, M and Maza, RM and Navarro-Ruiz, R and Lopez-Rodriguez, MJ and Reigada, D and Nieto-Sampedro, M and Niteo-Diaz, M, Gene expression of axon growth promoting factors in the deer antler, PLosOne, 5, (12) pp. e15706. ISSN 1932-6203 (2010) [Refereed Article]
The annual regeneration cycle of deer (Cervidae, Artiodactyla) antlers represents a unique model of epimorphic regeneration and rapid growth in adult mammals. Regenerating antlers are innervated by trigeminal sensory axons growing through the velvet, the modified form of skin that envelopes the antler, at elongation velocities that reach one centimetre per day in the common deer (Cervus elaphus). Several axon growth promoters like NT-3, NGF or IGF-1 have been described in the antler. To increase the knowledge on the axon growth environment, we have combined different gene-expression techniques to identify and characterize the expression of promoting molecules not previously described in the antler velvet. Cross-species microarray analyses of deer samples on human arrays allowed us to build up a list of 90 extracellular or membrane molecules involved in axon growth that were potentially being expressed in the antler. Fifteen of these genes were analysed using PCR and sequencing techniques to confirm their expression in the velvet and to compare it with the expression in other antler and skin samples. Expression of 8 axon growth promoters was confirmed in the velvet, 5 of them not previously described in the antler. In conclusion, our work shows that antler velvet provides growing axons with a variety of promoters of axon growth, sharing many of them with deer's normal and pedicle skin.