Neurons have complex and often extensively elongated processes. This unique cell morphology raises the problem of how remote neuronal territories are replenished with proteins. For a long time, axonal and presynaptic proteins were thought to be exclusively synthesized in the cell body which delivered them to peripheral sites by axoplasmic transport. Despite this early belief, protein has been shown to be synthesized in axons and nerve terminals, substantially alleviating the trophic burden of the perikaryon. This observation raised the question of the cellular origin of the peripheral RNAs involved in protein synthesis. The synthesis of these RNAs was initially attributed to the neuron soma almost by default. However, experimental data and theoretical considerations support the alternative view that axonal and presynaptic RNAs are also transcribed in the flanking glial cells and transferred to the axon domain of mature neurons. Altogether, these data suggest that axons and nerve terminals are served by a distinct gene expression system largely independent of the neuron cell body. Such a local system would allow the neuron periphery to respond promptly to environmental stimuli. This view has the theoretical merit of extending to axons and nerve terminals the marginalized concept of a glial supply of RNA (and protein) to the neuron cell body. Most long-term plastic changes requiring de novo gene expression occur in these domains, notably in presynaptic endings, despite their intrinsic lack of transcrptional capacity. This article enlightens novel perspectives on the biology and pathobiology of the neuron by critically reviewing these issues.

Local gene expression in axons and nerve endings: the glia-neuron unit.

GIUDITTA, ANTONIO
;
CRISPINO, MARIANNA
2008

Abstract

Neurons have complex and often extensively elongated processes. This unique cell morphology raises the problem of how remote neuronal territories are replenished with proteins. For a long time, axonal and presynaptic proteins were thought to be exclusively synthesized in the cell body which delivered them to peripheral sites by axoplasmic transport. Despite this early belief, protein has been shown to be synthesized in axons and nerve terminals, substantially alleviating the trophic burden of the perikaryon. This observation raised the question of the cellular origin of the peripheral RNAs involved in protein synthesis. The synthesis of these RNAs was initially attributed to the neuron soma almost by default. However, experimental data and theoretical considerations support the alternative view that axonal and presynaptic RNAs are also transcribed in the flanking glial cells and transferred to the axon domain of mature neurons. Altogether, these data suggest that axons and nerve terminals are served by a distinct gene expression system largely independent of the neuron cell body. Such a local system would allow the neuron periphery to respond promptly to environmental stimuli. This view has the theoretical merit of extending to axons and nerve terminals the marginalized concept of a glial supply of RNA (and protein) to the neuron cell body. Most long-term plastic changes requiring de novo gene expression occur in these domains, notably in presynaptic endings, despite their intrinsic lack of transcrptional capacity. This article enlightens novel perspectives on the biology and pathobiology of the neuron by critically reviewing these issues.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11588/102065
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