Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) is a target tissue derived neurotrophin required for normal sympathetic neuron survival and target tissue innervation. NGF signaling regulates gene expression in sympathetic neurons, which in turn mediates critical aspects of neuron survival, axon extension and terminal axon branching during sympathetic nervous system (SNS) development. Egr3 is a transcription factor regulated by NGF signaling in sympathetic neurons that is essential for normal SNS development. Germline Egr3-deficient mice have physiologic dysautonomia characterized by apoptotic sympathetic neuron death and abnormal innervation to many target tissues. The extent to which sympathetic innervation abnormalities in the absence of Egr3 is caused by altered innervation or by neuron death during development is unknown. Using Bax-deficient mice to abrogate apoptotic sympathetic neuron death in vivo, we show that Egr3 has an essential role in target tissue innervation in the absence of neuron death. Sympathetic target tissue innervation is abnormal in many target tissues in the absence of neuron death, and like NGF, Egr3 also appears to effect target tissue innervation heterogeneously. In some tissues, such as heart, spleen, bowel, kidney, pineal gland and the eye, Egr3 is essential for normal innervation, whereas in other tissues such as lung, stomach, pancreas and liver, Egr3 appears to have little role in innervation. Moreover, in salivary glands and heart, two tissues where Egr3 has an essential role in sympathetic innervation, NGF and NT-3 are expressed normally in the absence of Egr3 indicating that abnormal target tissue innervation is not due to deregulation of these neurotrophins in target tissues. Taken together, these results clearly demonstrate a role for Egr3 in mediating sympathetic target tissue innervation that is independent of neuron survival or neurotrophin deregulation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)