Cyclic AMP-dependent activity at the growth cone or the soma of cultured Xenopus spinal neurons was elevated by local extracellular perfusion of the neuron with culture medium containing 8-bromoadenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (8-br-cAMP) or forskolin. During local perfusion of one of the growth cones of multipolar neurons with these drugs, the perfused growth cone showed further extension, while the distant, unperfused growth cones were inhibited in their growth. Local perfusion of the growth cone with culture medium or local perfusion with 8-br-cAMP at a cell-free region 100 microns away from the growth cone did not produce any effect on the extension of the growth cone. Reduced extension of all growth cones was observed when the perfusion with 8-br-cAMP was restricted to the soma. The distant inhibitory effect does not depend on the growth of the perfused growth cone since local coperfusion of the growth cone with 8-br-cAMP and colchicine inhibited growth on both perfused and unperfused growth cones, while local perfusion with colchicine alone inhibited only the perfused growth cone. The distant inhibitory effect was abolished when the perfusion of 8-br-cAMP was carried out together with kinase inhibitor H-8, suggesting the involvement of cAMP-dependent protein kinase and/or its downstream factors in the long-range inhibitory signaling. Uniform exposure of the entire neuron to bath-applied 8-br-cAMP, however, led to enhanced growth activity at all growth cones. Thus, local elevation of cAMP-dependent activity produces long-range and opposite effects on distant parts of the neuron, and a cytosolic gradient of second messengers may produce effects distinctly different from those following uniform global elevation of the messenger, leading to differential growth regulation at different regions of the same neuron.

This content is only available as a PDF.