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CD40 forward signalling is a physiological regulator of early sensory axon growth

Howard, Laura, McWilliams, Thomas G., Wyatt, Sean ORCID: and Davies, Alun M. ORCID: 2019. CD40 forward signalling is a physiological regulator of early sensory axon growth. Development 146 (18) , dev176495. 10.1242/dev.176495

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Multiple members of the tumour necrosis factor superfamily (TNFSF) regulate the growth and branching of neural processes late in development, when neurons are establishing and refining connections. Here, we present the first evidence that a TNFSF member acts much earlier in development, when axons are growing to their targets. CD40L transiently enhanced axon growth from embryonic mouse DRG neurons cultured at this early stage. Early spinal nerves of embryos lacking the CD40L receptor (Cd40−/− mice) were significantly shorter in vivo than those of Cd40+/+ littermates. CD40L was synthesized in early DRG targets and was co-expressed with CD40 in early DRG neurons. Whereas CD40L enhanced early axon growth independently of neurotrophins, disruption of a CD40L/CD40 autocrine loop impaired early neurotrophin-promoted axon growth. In marked contrast to the widespread regulation of axon and dendrite growth by CD40L reverse signalling later in development, CD40-Fc, which activates reverse signalling, had no effect on early sensory axon growth. These results suggest that CD40 forward signalling is a novel physiological regulator of early axon growth that acts by target-derived and autocrine mechanisms.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.
Publisher: Company of Biologists
ISSN: 0950-1991
Funders: Wellcome Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 September 2019
Date of Acceptance: 14 August 2019
Last Modified: 02 May 2023 16:04

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