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J Neurosci Res. 2001 Jun 1;64(5):447-53.

Local synthesis of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins in the presynaptic nerve terminal.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, NIMH/NIH, Clinical Center, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892-1381, USA.


One of the central tenets in neuroscience has been that the protein constituents of distal compartments of the neuron (e.g., the axon and nerve terminal) are synthesized in the nerve cell body and are subsequently transported to their ultimate sites of function. In contrast to this postulate, we have established previously that a heterogeneous population of mRNAs and biologically active polyribosomes exist in the giant axon and presynaptic nerve terminals of the photoreceptor neurons in squid. We report that these mRNA populations contain mRNAs for nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins to include: cytochrome oxidase subunit 17, propionyl-CoA carboxylase (EC, dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase (EC, and coenzyme Q subunit 7. The mRNA for heat shock protein 70, a chaperone protein known to be involved in the import of proteins into mitochondria, has also been identified. Electrophoretic gel analysis of newly synthesized proteins in the synaptosomal fraction isolated from the squid optic lobe revealed that the large presynaptic terminals of the photoreceptor neuron contain a cytoplasmic protein synthetic system. Importantly, a significant amount of the cycloheximide resistant proteins locally synthesized in the terminal becomes associated with mitochondria. PCR analysis of RNA from synaptosomal polysomes establishes that COX17 and CoQ7 mRNAs are being actively translated. Taken together, these findings indicate that proteins required for the maintenance of mitochondrial function are synthesized locally in the presynaptic nerve terminal, and call attention to the intimacy of the relationship between the terminal and its energy generating system. J. Neurosci. Res. 64:447-453, 2001. Published 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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