Background. We previously demonstrated that step training leads to reorganization of neuronal networks in the lumbar spinal cord of rodents after a hemisection (HX) injury and step training, including increases excitability of spinally evoked potentials in hindlimb motor neurons. Methods. In this study, we investigated changes in RNA expression and synapse number using RNA-Seq and immunohistochemistry of the lumbar spinal cord 23 days after a mid-thoracic HX in rats with and without post-HX step training. Results. Gene Ontology (GO) term clustering demonstrated that expression levels of 36 synapse-related genes were increased in trained compared with nontrained rats. Many synaptic genes were upregulated in trained rats, but Lrrc4 (coding NGL-2) was the most highly expressed in the lumbar spinal cord caudal to the HX lesion. Trained rats also had a higher number of NGL-2/synaptophysin synaptic puncta in the lumbar ventral horn. Conclusions. Our findings demonstrate clear activity-dependent regulation of synapse-related gene expression post-HX. This effect is consistent with the concept that activity-dependent phenomena can provide a mechanistic drive for epigenetic neuronal group selection in the shaping of the reorganization of synaptic networks to learn the locomotion task being trained after spinal cord injury.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology