The VGF gene encodes a neuronal secretory-peptide precursor that is rapidly induced by neurotrophic growth factors and by depolarization in vitro, VGF expression in the animal peaks during critical periods in the developing peripheral and central nervous systems. To gain insight into the possible functions and regulation of VGF in vivo, we have used in situ hybridization to examine the regulation of VGF messenger RNA by experimental manipulations, and have found it to be regulated in the CNS by paradigms that affect electrical activity and by lesion. Inhibition of retinal electrical activity during the critical period of visual development rapidly repressed VGF messenger RNA in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus. In the adult, kainate-induced seizures transiently induced VGF messenger RNA in neurons of the dentate gyrus, hippocampus, and cerebral cortex within hours. Cortical lesion strongly induced VGF messenger RNA in ipsilateral cortex within hours, and strongly repressed expression in ipsilateral striatum. Ten days postlesion there was a delayed induction of VGF messenger RNA in a portion of differentiated striatum where compensatory cortical sprouting has been detected. Expression of the neuronal secretory-peptide precursor VGF is therefore modulated in vivo by monocular deprivation, seizure, and cortical lesion, paradigms which lead to neurotrophin induction, synaptic remodeling and axonal sprouting.
- Monocular deprivation