Int. J. Dev. Biol. 38: 661 - 672 (1994)
© UPV/EHU Press

Tenascin expression in developing, adult and regenerating caudal spinal cord in the urodele amphibians.

X Caubit, J F Riou, J Coulon, J P Arsanto, A Benraiss, J C Boucaut and Y Thouveny

Institut de Biologie du Développement de Marseille, CNRS-INSERM, Université Aix-Marseille II, France.

ABSTRACT Tenascin (Tn) protein and transcripts were analyzed in developing, adult and regenerating caudal spinal cord (SC) of Pleurodeles waltl. A polyclonal antibody (PAb) against Xenopus Tn and a newt Tn cDNA probe were used. In Western blots, anti-Tn PAb recognized Tn polypeptides of 200-220 kDa in tail regenerate extracts, but also the homolog of Tn/Cytotactin/J1 in brain and SC of adult newt. Immunofluorescence studies showed some reactivity around ependymoglial cells and strong labeling in the nervous tracts, in the developing as well as in the regenerating SC or adult SC. Immunogold electron microscopy revealed the presence of Tn throughout the ependymoglial cells, particularly near and along the plasma membrane of radial processes surrounding axons, especially growth cones. Tn could be more precisely found within rough endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi structures, or again in the surrounding extracellular space. This suggested that Tn was at least produced by radial glial profiles forming axonal compartments in which axons grew. Using the DNA probe for Tn, expression of Tn mRNA was also examined by Northern blot and RNAase protection analyses and by in situ hybridization, respectively. The levels of transcripts, barely detectable in adult tail, increased in regenerates from 3 days through 4-8 weeks post-amputation. In situ Tn mRNA were mainly localized in the mesenchyme, especially at the epithelial-mesenchymal interface, and in the developing cartilage, at the early regeneration stages, whereas high amounts of transcripts were seen not only at these stages, but also later, in the regenerating SC. Our main results supported the view that, in the caudal SC of newts, Tn, synthesized by radial ependymoglial cells, was similarly expressed during regeneration as well as larval development, and exhibited a sustained high accumulation level in the adult SC. On the basis of the multifunctional properties of Tn, the putative roles played by Tn as a substrate for neuronal pathfinding and boundary shaping were discussed.