Bone morphogenetic protein down-regulation of neuronal pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide and reciprocal effects on vasoactive intestinal peptide expression

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Among bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), the decapentaplegic (Dpp; BMP2, BMP4) and glass bottom boat (Gbb/60A; BMP5, BMP6, BMP7) subgroups have well-described functions guiding autonomic and sensory neuronal development, fiber formation and neurophenotypic identities. Evaluation of rat superior cervical ganglia (SCG) post-ganglionic sympathetic neuron developmental regulators identified that selected BMPs of the transforming growth factor beta superfamily have reciprocal effects on neuronal pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) expression. Dpp and Gbb/60A BMPs rapidly down-regulated PACAP expression, while up-regulating other sympathetic neuropeptides, including PACAP-related VIP. The suppressive effects of BMP on PACAP mRNA and peptide expression were potent, efficacious and phosphorylated mothers against decapentaplegic homolog (Smad) signaling-dependent. Axotomy of SCG dramatically increases PACAP expression, and the possibility that abrogation of inhibitory retrograde target tissue BMP signaling may contribute to this up-regulation of sympathetic neuron PACAP was investigated. Replacement of BMP6 to SCG explant preparations significantly blunted the injury-induced elevated PACAP expression, with a concomitant decrease in sympathetic PACAP-immunoreactive neuron numbers. These studies suggested that BMPs modulate neuropeptide identity and diversity by stimulating or restricting the expression of specific peptidergic systems. Furthermore, the liberation of SCG neurons from target-derived BMP inhibition following axotomy may be one participating mechanism associated with injury-induced neuropeptidergic plasticity.

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