Impaired axonal regeneration in alpha7 integrin-deficient mice
J Neurosci 20(5): 1822-30
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The interplay between growing axons and the extracellular substrate is pivotal for directing axonal outgrowth during development and regeneration. Here we show an important role for the neuronal cell adhesion molecule alpha7beta1 integrin during peripheral nerve regeneration. Axotomy led to a strong increase of this integrin on regenerating motor and sensory neurons, but not on the normally nonregenerating CNS neurons. alpha7 and beta1 subunits were present on the axons and their growth cones in the regenerating facial nerve. Transgenic deletion of the alpha7 subunit caused a significant reduction of axonal elongation. The associated delay in the reinnervation of the whiskerpad, a peripheral target of the facial motor neurons, points to an important role for this integrin in the successful execution of axonal regeneration.