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THE ROLE OF NADPH OXIDASE-DERIVED REACTIVE OXYGEN SPECIES IN AXONAL REGENERATION FOLLOWING INJURY
Although long known for their damaging effects to cell components and contribution to aging, cancer, and neurodegeneration, reactive oxygen species (ROS) have recently been found to have beneficial roles, such as mediating intracellular signaling and triggering regenerative inflammatory responses. While excessive ROS causes oxidative stress and cellular damage, an optimum ROS level is crucial for proper cell functioning, growth, and proliferation. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase (Nox) is a major source of cellular ROS that has been linked to neuronal polarity, axonal growth, and nervous system development. However, the precise role of Nox-derived ROS in axonal regeneration after injury has remained unclear. Here, we tested a role for neuronal Nox in neurite regeneration following mechanical transection in cultured neurons. Using a novel hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-sensing dye, p-bispinacolatoboron-5’-phenylpyridylthiazole (BPPT), we found that H2O2 -levels are elevated in regenerating growth cones following injury. Increased Nox2 co-localization with p40phox in the growth cone central domain suggests Nox2 activation after injury. Inhibiting Nox with pharmacological Nox inhibitor, celastrol, or reducing ROS with the chemical antioxidant N-acetyl-L-cysteine, reduced neurite regeneration rate. Higher level of H2O2 had negative effects on neurite outgrowth and regeneration. Growth cones treated with celastrol had reduced F-actin content in the growth cone periphery and T domain. Pharmacological inhibition of Nox also caused reduced activity of Src2, a redox modifiable protein that regulates actin organization and dynamics in the growth cone. Using a zebrafish larval spinal cord injury model, we found that pharmacological inhibition of Nox affects swimming behavior indicating impaired spinal cord regeneration due to the inhibition of Nox. Taken together, these findings indicate that the level of neuronal Nox-derived ROS is critical for neurite regeneration following injury. Identification of Nox downstream effectors in the growth cone is the next goal of this project to better understand the signaling pathway of Nox involved in neurite regeneration.