Authors: Francesco Difato, Hanako Tsushima, Mattia Pesce, Fabio Benfenati, Axel Blau & Evelina Chieregatti.
During development, axons of neurons in the mammalian central nervous system lose their ability to regenerate. To study the regeneration process, axons of mouse hippocampal neurons were partially damaged by an UVA laser dissector system. The possibility to deliver very low average power to the sample reduced the collateral thermal damage and allowed studying axonal regeneration of mouse neurons during early days in vitro. Force spectroscopy measurements were performed during and after axon ablation with a bead attached to the axonal membrane and held in an optical trap. With this approach, we quantified the adhesion of the axon to the substrate and the viscoelastic properties of the membrane during regeneration. The reorganization and regeneration of the axon was documented by long-term live imaging. Here we demonstrate that BDNF regulates neuronal adhesion and favors the formation of actin waves during regeneration after axonal lesion.