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Cholera Toxin B Subunit Shows Transneuronal Tracing after Injection in an Injured Sciatic Nerve

Lai, BQ;Qiu, XC;Zhang, K;Zhang, RY;Jin, H;Li, G;Shen, HY;Wu, JL;Ling, EA;Zeng, YS;

Cholera toxin B subunit (CTB) has been extensively used in the past for monosynaptic mapping. For decades, it was thought to lack the ability of transneuronal tracing. In order to investigate whether biotin conjugates of CTB (b-CTB) would pass through transneurons in the rat spinal cord, it was injected into the crushed left sciatic nerve. For experimental control, the first order afferent neuronal projections were defined by retrograde transport of fluorogold (FG, a non-transneuronal labeling marker as an experimental control) injected into the crushed right sciatic nerve in the same rat. Neurons containing b-CTB or FG were observed in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) at the L4-L6 levels ipsilateral to the tracer injection. In the spinal cord, b-CTB labeled neurons were distributed in all laminae ipsilaterally between C7 and S1 segments, but labeling of neurons at the cervical segment was abolished when the T10 segment was transected completely. The interneurons, distributed in the intermediate gray matter and identified as gamma-aminobutyric acid-ergic (GABAergic), were labeled by b-CTB. In contrast, FG labeling was confined to the ventral horn neurons at L4-L6 spinal segments ipsilateral to the injection. b-CTB immunoreactivity remained to be restricted to the soma of neurons and often appeared as irregular patches detected by light and electron microscopy. Detection of monosialoganglioside (GM1) in b-CTB labeled neurons suggests that GM1 ganglioside may specifically enhance the uptake and transneuronal passage of b-CTB, thus supporting the notion that it may be used as a novel transneuronal tracer.