ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-120612-3
Dynamics of degeneration and regeneration in developing zebrafish peripheral axons reveals a requirement for extrinsic cell types
Villegas, R., Martin, S.M., O'Donnell, K., Carrillo, S., Sagasti, A., and Allende, M.L.
Date: 2012
Source: Neural Development   7(1): 19 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Allende, Miguel L., Sagasti, Alvaro
Keywords: none
MeSH Terms:
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Axons/physiology*
  • Axotomy
  • Copper/pharmacology
  • Copper/therapeutic use
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian
  • Enzyme Inhibitors/pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors/therapeutic use
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental/drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental/genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental/physiology*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins/genetics
  • Mutation/genetics
  • Nerve Degeneration/drug therapy
  • Nerve Degeneration/metabolism
  • Nerve Degeneration/pathology
  • Nerve Degeneration/physiopathology*
  • Nerve Regeneration/drug effects
  • Nerve Regeneration/genetics
  • Nerve Regeneration/physiology*
  • Neurons/cytology*
  • Oligodeoxyribonucleotides, Antisense/pharmacology
  • Peripheral Nerves/cytology*
  • Peripheral Nerves/embryology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins/genetics
  • Quinazolines/pharmacology
  • Quinazolines/therapeutic use
  • Schwann Cells/cytology
  • Schwann Cells/drug effects
  • Trans-Activators/genetics
  • Transcription Factors/genetics
  • Tyrphostins/pharmacology
  • Tyrphostins/therapeutic use
  • Zebrafish
  • Zebrafish Proteins/genetics
PubMed: 22681863 Full text @ Neural Dev.


Understanding the cellular mechanisms regulating axon degeneration and regeneration is crucial for developing treatments for nerve injury and neurodegenerative disease. In neurons, axon degeneration is distinct from cell body death and often precedes or is associated with the onset of disease symptoms. In the peripheral nervous system of both vertebrates and invertebrates, after degeneration of detached fragments, axons can often regenerate to restore function. Many studies of axonal degeneration and regeneration have used in vitro approaches, but the influence of extrinsic cell types on these processes can only be fully addressed in live animals. Because of its simplicity and superficial location, the larval zebrafish posterior lateral line (pLL) nerve is an ideal model system for live studies of axon degeneration and regeneration.


We used laser axotomy and time-lapse imaging of pLL axons to characterize the roles of leukocytes, Schwann cells and target sensory hair cells in axon degeneration and regeneration in vivo. Immune cells were essential for efficient removal of axonal debris after axotomy. Schwann cells were required for proper fasciculation and pathfinding of regenerating axons to their target cells. Intact target hair cells were not themselves required for regeneration, but chemical ablation of neuromasts caused axons to transiently deviate from their normal paths.


Macrophages, Schwann cells, and target sensory organs are required for distinct aspects of pLL axon degeneration or regeneration in the zebrafish larva. Our work introduces a powerful vertebrate model for analyzing axonal degeneration and regeneration in the living animal and elucidating the role of extrinsic cell types in these processes.