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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Cholinergic neuronal differentiation factors: evidence for the presence of both CNTF-like and non-CNTF-like factors in developing rat footpad.

Catecholaminergic sympathetic neurons are able to change their transmitter phenotype during development and to acquire cholinergic properties. Cholinergic sympathetic differentiation is only observed in fibers innervating specific targets like the sweat glands in the rat footpad. A function for ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) in this process has been implied as it is able to induce cholinergic properties (ChAT, VIP) in cultured chick and rat neurons. We show here that a CNTF-like, VIP-inducing activity is present in rat footpads and that its increases 6-fold during the period of cholinergic sympathetic differentiation. Immunohistochemical analysis of P21 rat footpads demonstrated CNTF-like immunoreactivity in Schwann cells but not in sweat glands, the target tissue of cholinergic sympathetic neurons. The expression of this factor in footpads seems to be dependent on the presence of intact nerve axons, as nerve transection results in a loss of CNTF-like cholinergic activity and immunoreactivity. Immunoprecipitation experiments with rat footpad extracts provided evidence for the presence of ChAT- inducing factors other than CNTF, which may independently or together with CNTF be involved in the determination of sympathetic neuron phenotype.[1]


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