Axonal degeneration occurs in various neurological diseases and traumatic nerve injury, and axonal regeneration is restricted by inhibitory factors in the central nervous system. Cyclin-dependent kinase 5 and glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β) are activated by one of those inhibitors, and collapsin response mediator protein 2 (CRMP2) is phosphorylated by both kinases. We previously developed a CRMP2 knock-in (CRMP2 KI) mouse line, in which CRMP2 phosphorylation at Ser 522 is inhibited. Because CRMP2 KI mice showed promotion of axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury, we hypothesized that CRMP2 KI mice would show higher axonal regeneration after optic nerve injury. In this study, we first show that depolymerization of microtubules after optic nerve crush (ONC) injury was suppressed in CRMP2 KI mice. Loss of retinal ganglia cells was also reduced after ONC. We found that protein level of GAP43, a marker of regenerative axons, was higher in the optic nerve from CRMP2KI than that from wild type 4 weeks after of ONC. We further observed increased numbers of axons labeled by tracer in the optic nerve after ONC in CRMP2 KI mice. These results suggest that inhibition of phosphorylation of CRMP2 suppresses axonal degeneration and promotes axonal regeneration after optic nerve injury.
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