• axonogenesis;
  • co-chaperones;
  • laminin;
  • neuro-transmitters;
  • prion protein;
  • trophic signals


Prion protein (PrPC) is a cell surface glycoprotein that is abundantly expressed in nervous system. The elucidation of the PrPC interactome network and its significance on neural physiology is crucial to understanding neurodegenerative events associated with prion and Alzheimer's diseases. PrPC co-opts stress inducible protein 1/alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (STI1/α7nAChR) or laminin/Type I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR1/5) to modulate hippocampal neuronal survival and differentiation. However, potential cross-talk between these protein complexes and their role in peripheral neurons has never been addressed. To explore this issue, we investigated PrPC-mediated axonogenesis in peripheral neurons in response to STI1 and laminin-γ1 chain-derived peptide (Ln-γ1). STI1 and Ln-γ1 promoted robust axonogenesis in wild-type neurons, whereas no effect was observed in neurons from PrPC-null mice. PrPC binding to Ln-γ1 or STI1 led to an increase in intracellular Ca2+ levels via distinct mechanisms: STI1 promoted extracellular Ca2+ influx, and Ln-γ1 released calcium from intracellular stores. Both effects depend on phospholipase C activation, which is modulated by mGluR1/5 for Ln-γ1, but depends on, C-type transient receptor potential (TRPC) channels rather than α7nAChR for STI1. Treatment of neurons with suboptimal concentrations of both ligands led to synergistic actions on PrPC-mediated calcium response and axonogenesis. This effect was likely mediated by simultaneous binding of the two ligands to PrPC. These results suggest a role for PrPC as an organizer of diverse multiprotein complexes, triggering specific signaling pathways and promoting axonogenesis in the peripheral nervous system.