Phosphorylation of proteins in normal and regenerating goldfish optic nerve
Nerve Tissue Proteins
Within 6 h after radiolabeled phosphate was injected into the eye of goldfish, labeled acid-soluble and acid-precipitable material began to appear in the optic nerve and subsequently also in the lobe of the optic tectum, to which the optic axons project. From the rate of appearance of the acid-precipitable material, a maximal velocity of axonal transport of 13-21 mm/day could be calculated, consistent with fast axonal transport group II. Examination of individual proteins by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis revealed that approximately 20 proteins were phosphorylated in normal and regenerating nerves. These ranged in molecular weight from approximately 18,000 to 180,000 and in pI from 4.4 to 6.9. Among them were several fast transported proteins, including protein 4, which is the equivalent of the growth-associated protein GAP-43. In addition, there was phosphorylation of some recognizable constituents of slow axonal transport, including alpha-tubulin, a neurofilament constituent (NF), and another intermediate filament protein characteristic of goldfish optic axons (ON2). At least some axonal proteins, therefore, may become phosphorylated as a result of the axonal transport of a phosphate carrier. Some of the proteins labeled by intraocular injection of 32P showed changes in phosphorylation during regeneration of the optic axons. By 3-4 weeks after an optic tract lesion, five proteins, including protein 4, showed a significant increase in labeling in the intact segment of nerve between the eye and the lesion, whereas at least four others (including ON2) showed a significant decrease. When local incorporation of radiolabeled phosphate into the nerve was examined by incubating nerve segments in 32P-containing medium, there was little or no labeling of the proteins that showed changes in phosphorylation during regeneration. Segments of either normal or regenerating nerves showed strong labeling of several other proteins, particularly a group ranging in molecular weight from 46,000 to 58,000 and in pI from 4.9 to 6.4. These proteins were presumably primarily of nonneuronal origin. Nevertheless, if degeneration of the axons had been caused by removal of the eye 1 week earlier, most of the labeling of these proteins was abolished. This suggests that phosphorylation of these proteins depends on the integrity of the optic axons.