The brain of gastropod mollusks contains many giant neurons with polyploid genomic DNAs. Such DNAs are generated through repeated DNA endoreplication during body growth. However, it is not known what triggers DNA endoreplication in neurons. There are two possibilities: (1) DNAs are replicated in response to some unknown molecules in the hemolymph that reflect the nutritive status of the animal; or (2) DNAs are replicated in response to some unknown factors that are retrogradely transported through axons from the innervated target organs. We first tested whether hemolymph with rich nutrition could induce DNA endoreplication. We tested whether the transplanted brain exhibits enhanced DNA endoreplication like an endogenous brain does when transplanted into the homocoel of the body of a slug whose body growth is promoted by an increased food supply. However, no enhancement was observed in the frequency of DNA endoreplication when we compared the transplanted brains in the growth-promoted and growth-suppressed host slugs, suggesting that the humoral environment is irrelevant to triggering the body growth-dependent DNA endoreplication. Next, we tested the requirement of target innervation by surgically dissecting a unilateral posterior pedal nerve of an endogenous brain. Substantially lower number of neurons exhibited DNA endoreplication in the pedal ganglion ipsilateral to the dissected nerve. These results support the view that enhanced DNA endoreplication is mediated by target innervation and is not brought about through the direct effect of humoral factors in the hemolymph during body growth.
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