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Neurosignals. 2006-2007;15(5):249-58. Epub 2007 May 10.

Significance of molecular signaling for protein translation control in neurodegenerative diseases.

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Laboratory of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Department of Anatomy, LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, China.


It has long been known that protein synthesis is inhibited in neurological disorders. Protein synthesis includes protein transcription and translation. While many studies about protein transcription have been done in the last decade, we are just starting to understand more about the impact of protein translation. Protein translation control can be accomplished at the initiation or elongation steps. In this review, we will focus on translation control at initiation. Neurons have long neurites in which proteins have to be transported from the cell body to the end of the neurite. Since supply of proteins cannot meet the need of neuronal activity at the spine, protein locally translated at the spine will be a good solution to replace the turnover of proteins. Therefore, local protein translation is an important mechanism to maintain normal neuronal functions. In this notion, we have to separate the concept of global and local protein translation control. Both global and local protein translation control modulate normal neuronal functions from development to cognitive functions. Increasing lines of evidence show that they also play significant roles in neurodegenerative diseases, e.g. neuronal apoptosis, synaptic degeneration and autophagy. We summarize all the evidence in this review and focus on the control at initiation. The new live-cell imaging technology together with photoconvertible fluorescent probes allows us to investigate newly translated proteins in situ. Protein translation control is another line to modulate neuronal function in neuron-neuron communication as well as in response to stress in neurodegenerative diseases.

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