Lipids on the Brain

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Science  30 May 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5624, pp. 1343
DOI: 10.1126/science.300.5624.1343b

The hippocampus of the vertebrate brain has tremendous structural plasticity. Robust axon outgrowth is observed during development and upon hippocampal lesion. Bräuer et al. show that a membrane-associated lipid phosphatase called plasticity-related gene 1 (PRG-1) is expressed in hippocampal neurons and controls axon outgrowth by modulating the extracellular phospholipid environment. PRG-1 is expressed in the rat hippocampus during active axon outgrowth and it is up-regulated in the denervated hippocampus. PRG-1 is a lipid phosphate phosphatase that acts on extracellular phospholipids such as lysophosphatidic acid (LPA). Hippocampal explants expressing PRG-1 showed resistance to neurite retraction induced by exposure to LPA, and overexpression of PRG-1 in a neuronal cell line had the same effect. LPA receptor expression in the hippocampus remains constant during embryogenesis and after lesion. Thus, it seems that expression of PRG-1 allows hippocampal neurons to overcome the effects of bioactive phospholipids such as LPA by reducing their local concentrations around axons and growth cones.—LDC

Nature Neurosci. 10.1038/nn1052 (2003).

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