Purified regenerating retinal neurons reveal regulatory role of DNA methylation-mediated Na+/K+-ATPase in murine axon regeneration

Elias Rizk, Andy Madrid, Joyce Koueik, Dandan Sun, Krista Stewart, David Chen, Susan Luo, Felissa Hong, Ligia A. Papale, Nithya Hariharan, Reid S. Alisch, Bermans J. Iskandar

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3 Scopus citations


While embryonic mammalian central nervous system (CNS) axons readily grow and differentiate, only a minority of fully differentiated mature CNS neurons are able to regenerate injured axons, leading to stunted functional recovery after injury and disease. To delineate DNA methylation changes specifically associated with axon regeneration, we used a Fluorescent-Activated Cell Sorting (FACS)-based methodology in a rat optic nerve transection model to segregate the injured retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) into regenerating and non-regenerating cell populations. Whole-genome DNA methylation profiling of these purified neurons revealed genes and pathways linked to mammalian RGC regeneration. Moreover, whole-methylome sequencing of purified uninjured adult and embryonic RGCs identified embryonic molecular profiles reactivated after injury in mature neurons, and others that correlate specifically with embryonic or adult axon growth, but not both. The results highlight the contribution to both embryonic growth and adult axon regeneration of subunits encoding the Na+/K+-ATPase. In turn, both biochemical and genetic inhibition of the Na+/K+-ATPase pump significantly reduced RGC axon regeneration. These data provide critical molecular insights into mammalian CNS axon regeneration, pinpoint the Na+/K+-ATPase as a key regulator of regeneration of injured mature CNS axons, and suggest that successful regeneration requires, in part, reactivation of embryonic signals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number120
JournalCommunications Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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