The neural cell adhesion molecule NCAM is involved in axonal outgrowth and target recognition in the developing nervous system. In vitro, NCAM-NCAM binding has been shown to induce neurite outgrowth, presumably through an activation of fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs). We have recently identified a neuritogenic ligand, termed the C3 peptide, of the first immunoglobulin (lg) module of NCAM using a combinatorial library of synthetic peptides. Here we investigate whether stimulation of neurite outgrowth by this synthetic ligand of NCAM involves FGFRs. In primary cultures of cerebellar neurons from wild-type mice, the C3 peptide stimulated neurite outgrowth. This response was virtually absent in cultures of cerebellar neurons from transgenic mice expressing a dominant-negative form of the FGFR1. Likewise, in PC12E2 cells transiently expressing a dominant-negative form of the mouse FGFR1, induction of neurites by the C3 peptide was abrogated. These findings suggest that the neuritogenic effect of the C3 peptide requires the presence of functional FGFRs and support the hypothesis that FGFRs are essential in cell adhesion molecule-stimulated neurite outgrowth. The C3 peptide appears to stimulate neurite outgrowth by specifically activating an NCAM-FGFR-dependent signaling cascade and may therefore be of considerable interest as a tool for the determination of NCAM-dependent neurite outgrowth as well as a potential drug capable of promoting outgrowth and regeneration of NCAM-responsive axons.
Journal of Neurochemistry, 2000, Vol 75, Issue 2, p. 665-71