Membrane resealing in cultured rat septal neurons after neurite transection: Evidence for enhancement by Ca2+-triggered protease activity and cytoskeletal disassembly

X. Y. Xie, J. N. Barrett

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128 Scopus citations


Neurites of cultured septal neurons were transected with a laser under sterile conditions, and the subsequent membrane resealing was assayed using a dye exclusion method. In agreement with findings in other preparations, Ca2+ enhanced resealing: in normal culture medium the percentage of lesioned neurons that resealed within 20-30 min after transection increased with increasing bath [Ca2+] over the range 10-7 to 2 x 10-3 M; about 75% of cells resealed in 2 mM Ca2+. Mn2+ and Sr2+ also enhanced resealing, but Mg2+ inhibited it. The percentage of resealing neurons was sensitive to agents known to alter the stability of cytoskeletal components. Agents that tend to disassemble microtubules and/or neurofilaments (e.g., colchicine, low-ionic-strength media) strongly promoted resealing, whereas treatments that tend to stabilize microtubules (taxol, Mg2+) inhibited resealing. Addition of exogenous proteases (papain, trypsin, or dispase) enhanced resealing, whereas inhibitors of cysteine proteases (including a specific inhibitor of calpain, a Ca-activated neutral protease) strongly inhibited resealing. Calmodulin inhibitors inhibited resealing, consistent with reports that calmodulin facilitates calpain-mediated proteolysis of fodrin, a component of the cortical cytoskeleton. Based on these results, we hypothesize that one of the major mechanisms involved in resealing is activation of endogenous proteases by Ca2+ entry into the injured neurite. The resulting changes in the cellular cytoskeleton might promote fusion and resealing of the cut ends of the plasma membrane by enhancing membrane mobility and/or by removing structures that normally prevent membrane-membrane contact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3257-3267
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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