Xiao, Y., Faucherre, A., Pola-Morell, L., Heddleston, J.M., Liu, T.L., Chew, T.L., Sato, F., Sehara-Fujisawa, A., Kawakami, K., López-Schier, H. (2015) High-resolution live imaging reveals axon-glia interactions during peripheral nerve injury and repair in zebrafish. Disease models & mechanisms. 8:553-564.
Neural damage is a devastating outcome of physical trauma. The glia are one of the main effectors of neuronal repair in the nervous system, but the dynamic interactions between peripheral neurons and Schwann cells during injury and regeneration remain incompletely characterized. Here, we combine laser microsurgery, genetic analysis, high-resolution intravital imaging and lattice light-sheet microscopy to study the interaction between Schwann cells and sensory neurons in a zebrafish model of neurotrauma. We found that chronic denervation by neuronal ablation leads to Schwann-cell death, whereas acute denervation by axonal severing does not affect the overall complexity and architecture of the glia. Neuronal-circuit regeneration begins when Schwann cells extend bridging processes to close the injury gap. Regenerating axons grow faster and directionally after the physiological clearing of distal debris by the Schwann cells. This might facilitate circuit repair by ensuring that axons are guided through unoccupied spaces within bands of Büngner towards their original peripheral target. Accordingly, in the absence of Schwann cells, regenerating axons are misrouted, impairing the re-innervation of sensory organs. Our results indicate that regenerating axons use haptotaxis as a directional cue during the reconstitution of a neural circuit. These findings have implications for therapies aimed at neurorepair, which will benefit from preserving the architecture of the peripheral glia during periods of denervation.