Ribosomal RNA transcriptional activation and processing in hamster rubrospinal motoneurons: Effects of axotomy and testosterone treatment

Paul D. Storer, Kathryn J. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Rubrospinal motoneurons (RSMN) represent a population of androgen receptor-expressing central motoneurons with limited regenerative potential relative to their peripheral counterparts. A key determinant of regenerative capability lies in the nucleolar reaction of injured neurons. To date, characterization of the nucleolar reaction in injured central motoneurons has not been accomplished. Furthermore, it has been documented that testosterone propionate (TP) augments peripheral motoneuron regeneration through regulation of the nucleolar reaction to injury. In this study, the effects of injury alone, or in conjunction with TP, on the nucleolar response of injured RSMN were examined using in situ hybridization (ISH) techniques. Castrated adult male hamsters were subjected to right spinal cord hemisection at the C7/T1 vertebral level. Half the animals were subcutaneously implanted with one Silastic TP capsule, with the other half sham implanted. ISH for precursor 45S and mature 28S rRNA was accomplished with a 3H-labeled ribosomal DNA probe specific to the external transcribed spacer region or to the 28S region of the ribosomal gene, respectively. Postoperative times of 2, 6, and 24 hours were selected for examination of precursor 45S rRNA (i.e., rRNA transcriptional activation) levels and 0.25, 2, 4, and 14 days for examination of mature rRNA (i.e., ribosome) levels. Transcriptional activation of the rRNA gene was rapidly and transiently increased in injured RSMN, analogously to previously documented effects of injury on rRNA transcription in peripheral motoneurons, but, in contrast, this did not translate into an increase in mature ribosomes. TP administration failed to affect positively the nucleolar response of injured RSMN at all. From this study, a key component underlying inherent differences in the regenerative capacity of peripheral vs. central motoneurons has been identified, which can be targeted in future experiments designed to enhance the regenerative potential of selective neuronal populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-333
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 14 2003


  • Gonadal steroids
  • In situ hybridization
  • Nucleolus
  • Red nucleus
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Ribosomal RNA transcriptional activation and processing in hamster rubrospinal motoneurons: Effects of axotomy and testosterone treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this