We describe culture systems for neurons of an adrenergic autonomic ganglion which: (a) permit cultivation of neurons without supporting cells, (b) permit separate harvest of somal and axonal material, and (c) permit direct access to the neuronal surface. The antimetabolites used to suppress supporting cell growth did not have demonstrable effects on neuronal polypeptide synthesis. Rapid neurite outgrowth, which characterized these cultures, was prevented by colchicine or cycloheximide and resumed promptly after their withdrawal. Axons separated from cell bodies showed no incorporation of label from leucine or fucose, but did exhibit incorporation of glucosamine. The major polypeptides present in this neuron, as demonstrated by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analysis, are described. No major differences in polypeptide content were observed when soma and axons were compared. Likewise, there were no differences detected in polypeptides synthesized by neurons in suspension or neurons actively extending processes. Analysis of the polypeptides within the neurites after labeling with amino acids indicated transport at a number of different rates; certain of these polypeptides corresponded in size and transport characteristics to polypeptides observed in the rabbit optic nerve after labeling of retinal ganglion cells. Tubulin and actin have been definitively identified in this cell type (18); we found proteins similar in size and proportionate amounts to be among the rapidly transported soluble polypeptides. The prominent polypeptides observed after several methods of surface labeling are described.

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