Endogenous proBDNF is a negative regulator of migration of cerebellar granule cells in neonatal mice
The majority of newborn neurons migrate from their birthplace to final destination in the developing brain. Migration of cerebellar granule cells (CGCs) requires multiple factors. Mature brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) positively regulates the proliferation, migration, survival and differentiation of CGCs in rodents. However, the role of the BDNF precursor, proBDNF, in neuronal development remains unknown. In this study, we investigated the effect of proBDNF in vivo and in vitro on migration of CGCs. We demonstrate that proBDNF and its receptors p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) and sortilin are highly expressed in the cerebella as determined by immunohistochemistry and Western blot. ProBDNF is released from cultured cerebellar neurons, and this release is increased by high potassium stimulation. ProBDNF inhibits migration of CGCs in vitro, and the neutralizing antibodies to proBDNF enhance such migration as assayed by transwell culture. In addition, proBDNF incorporated into an agarose plug reduces granule cell migration from such plugs, whereas the neutralizing antibodies attract these cells towards the plug. The application of proBDNF into the lateral ventricle significantly inhibits migration of CGCs out of the proliferative zone into the internal granular cell layer, whereas the neutralizing antibodies enhance this migration. Furthermore, the effects of proBDNF on cell migration are lost in p75NTR-/- mice. Our data suggest that proBDNF negatively regulates migration of CGCs and this effect is mediated by p75NTR. We conclude that proBDNF has an opposing role in migration of CGCs to that of mature BDNF.