Genome-wide study reveals novel roles for formin-2 in axon regeneration as a microtubule dynamics regulator and therapeutic target for nerve repair

Ngan Pan Bennett Au, Tan Wu, Xinyu Chen, Feng Gao, Yuen Tung Yolanda Li, Wing Yip Tam, Kwan Ngok Yu, Daniel H. Geschwind, Giovanni Coppola, Xin Wang, Chi Him Eddie Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Peripheral nerves regenerate successfully; however, clinical outcome after injury is poor. We demonstrated that low-dose ionizing radiation (LDIR) promoted axon regeneration and function recovery after peripheral nerve injury (PNI). Genome-wide CpG methylation profiling identified LDIR-induced hypermethylation of the Fmn2 promoter, exhibiting injury-induced Fmn2 downregulation in dorsal root ganglia (DRGs). Constitutive knockout or neuronal Fmn2 knockdown accelerated nerve repair and function recovery. Mechanistically, increased microtubule dynamics at growth cones was observed in time-lapse imaging of Fmn2-deficient DRG neurons. Increased HDAC5 phosphorylation and rapid tubulin deacetylation were found in regenerating axons of neuronal Fmn2-knockdown mice after injury. Growth-promoting effect of neuronal Fmn2 knockdown was eliminated by pharmaceutical blockade of HDAC5 or neuronal Hdac5 knockdown, suggesting that Fmn2deletion promotes axon regeneration via microtubule post-translational modification. In silico screening of FDA-approved drugs identified metaxalone, administered either immediately or 24-h post-injury, accelerating function recovery. This work uncovers a novel axon regeneration function of Fmn2 and a small-molecule strategy for PNI.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date11 Dec 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 11 Dec 2023

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