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Mol Cell Neurosci. 2009 Feb;40(2):128-42. doi: 10.1016/j.mcn.2008.09.008. Epub 2008 Oct 22.

A functional equivalent of endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi in axons for secretion of locally synthesized proteins.

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Nemours Biomedical Research, Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children, 1600 Rockland Road, Wilmington, DE 19803, USA.


Subcellular localization of protein synthesis provides a means to regulate the protein composition in far reaches of a cell. This localized protein synthesis gives neuronal processes autonomy to rapidly respond to extracellular stimuli. Locally synthesized axonal proteins enable neurons to respond to guidance cues and can help to initiate regeneration after injury. Most studies of axonal mRNA translation have concentrated on cytoplasmic proteins. While ultrastructural studies suggest that axons do not have rough endoplasmic reticulum or Golgi apparatus, mRNAs for transmembrane and secreted proteins localize to axons. Here, we show that growing axons with protein synthetic activity contain ER and Golgi components needed for classical protein synthesis and secretion. Isolated axons have the capacity to traffic locally synthesized proteins into secretory pathways and inhibition of Golgi function attenuates translation-dependent axonal growth responses. Finally, the capacity for secreting locally synthesized proteins in axons appears to be increased by injury.

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