Precedent exists for the early development and subsequent down-regulation of neurotransmitter receptor systems in the vertebrate central nervous system, but the function of such embryonic receptors has not been established. Here we show that stimulation of early-developing dopamine receptors in avian retina cells greatly inhibits the motility of neuronal growth cones. Neurons from embryonic chicken retinas were cultured in low-density monolayers, and their growth cones were observed with phase-contrast or video-enhanced-contrast-differential-interference-contrast (VEC-DIC) microscopy. Approximately 25% of the neurons responded to micromolar dopamine with a rapid reduction in filopodial activity followed by a flattening of growth cones and retraction of neurites. The response occurred at all ages examined (embryonic day-8 retinal neurons cultured on polylysine-coated coverslips for 1-7 days), although neurite retraction was greatest in younger cultures. Effects of dopamine on growth cone function could be reversed by haloperidol or (+)-SCH 23390, whereas forskolin elicited a response similar to dopamine; these data show the response was receptor-mediated, acting through a D1-type system, and are consistent with the use of cAMP as a second messenger. The experiments provide strong support for the hypothesis that neurotransmitters, besides mediating transynaptic signaling in the adult, may have a role in neuronal differentiation as growth regulators.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - 1988|
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