Somatic and axonal LIGHT signaling elicit degenerative and regenerative responses in motoneurons, respectively
A receptor-ligand interaction can evoke a broad range of biological activities in different cell types depending on receptor identity and cell type-specific post-receptor signaling intermediates. Here, we show that the TNF family member LIGHT, known to act as a death-triggering factor in motoneurons through LT-beta R, can also promote axon outgrowth and branching in motoneurons through the same receptor. LIGHT-induced axonal elongation and branching require ERK and caspase-9 pathways. This distinct response involves a compartment-specific activation of LIGHT signals, with somatic activation-inducing death, while axonal stimulation promotes axon elongation and branching in motoneurons. Following peripheral nerve damage, LIGHT increases at the lesion site through expression by invading B lymphocytes, and genetic deletion of Light significantly delays functional recovery. We propose that a central and peripheral activation of the LIGHT pathway elicits different functional responses in motoneurons.