Ph.D. University College London, UK
Advillin is a sensory neuron-specific actin-binding protein expressed at high levels in all types of somatosensory neurons in early development. However, the precise role of advillin in adulthood is largely unknown. Here we reveal advillin expression restricted to isolectin B4-positive (IB4+) neurons in the adult dorsal root ganglia (DRG). Advillin knockout (KO) specifically impaired axonal regeneration in adult IB4+ DRG neurons. During axon regeneration, advillin was expressed at the very tips of filopodia and modulated growth cone formation by interacting with and regulating focal-adhesion–related proteins. The advillin-containing focal-adhesion protein complex was shed from neurite tips during neurite retraction and was detectable in cerebrospinal fluid in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, oxaliplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy, and chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve. In addition, advillin KO disturbed experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis-induced neural plasticity in the spinal-cord dorsal horn and aggravated neuropathic pain. Our study highlights a role for advillin in growth cone formation, axon regeneration, and neuropathic pain associated with IB4+ DRG neurons in adulthood.