Dynamic membrane depolarization is an early regulator of ependymoglial cell response to spinal cord injury in axolotl

Keith Sabin, Tiago Santos-Ferreira, Jaclyn Essig, Sarah Rudasill, Karen Echeverri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Salamanders, such as the Mexican axolotl, are some of the few vertebrates fortunate in their ability to regenerate diverse structures after injury. Unlike mammals they are able to regenerate a fully functional spinal cord after injury. However, the molecular circuitry required to initiate a pro-regenerative response after spinal cord injury is not well understood. To address this question we developed a spinal cord injury model in axolotls and used in vivo imaging of labeled ependymoglial cells to characterize the response of these cells to injury. Using in vivo imaging of ion sensitive dyes we identified that spinal cord injury induces a rapid and dynamic change in the resting membrane potential of ependymoglial cells. Prolonged depolarization of ependymoglial cells after injury inhibits ependymoglial cell proliferation and subsequent axon regeneration. Using transcriptional profiling we identified c-Fos as a key voltage sensitive early response gene that is expressed specifically in the ependymoglial cells after injury. This data establishes that dynamic changes in the membrane potential after injury are essential for regulating the specific spatiotemporal expression of c-Fos that is critical for promoting faithful spinal cord regeneration in axolotl.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-25
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank M. Levin for kind gifts of plasmids. We thank members of the Echeverri lab for feedback on the project. K. Sabin was funded in part by a Ray Anderson Fellowship from UMN and by the NIH T32 Stem Cell Biology Training Program at the UMN.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Axolotl
  • Ependymoglial
  • Membrane potential
  • Regeneration


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