Localization of RNAi Machinery to Axonal Branch Points and Growth Cones Is Facilitated by Mitochondria and Is Disrupted in ALS.
ABSTRACT: Local protein synthesis in neuronal axons plays an important role in essential spatiotemporal signaling processes; however, the molecular basis for the post-transcriptional regulation controlling this process in axons is still not fully understood. Here we studied the axonal mechanisms underlying the transport and localization of microRNA (miRNA) and the RNAi machinery along the axon. We first identified miRNAs, Dicer, and Argonaute-2 (Ago2) in motor neuron (MN) axons. We then studied the localization of RNAi machinery and demonstrated that mitochondria associate with miR-124 and RNAi proteins in axons. Importantly, this co-localization occurs primarily at axonal branch points and growth cones. Moreover, using live cell imaging of a functional Cy3-tagged miR-124, we revealed that this miRNA is actively transported with acidic compartments in axons, and associates with stalled mitochondria at growth cones and axonal branch points. Finally, we observed enhanced retrograde transport of miR-124-Cy3, and a reduction in its localization to static mitochondria in MNs expressing the ALS causative gene hSOD1G93A. Taken together, our data suggest that mitochondria participate in the axonal localization and transport of RNAi machinery, and further imply that alterations in this mechanism may be associated with neurodegeneration in ALS.
Project description:There is increasing evidence that localized mRNAs in axons and growth cones play an important role in axon extension and pathfinding via local translation. A few studies have revealed the presence of microRNAs (miRNAs) in axons, which may control local protein synthesis during axon development. However, so far, there has been no attempt to screen for axon-enriched miRNAs and to validate their possible localization to growth cones of developing axons from neurons of the central nervous system. In this study, the localization of miRNAs in axons and growth cones in cortical neurons was examined using a "neuron ball" culture method that is suitable to prepare axonal miRNAs with high yield and purity. Axonal miRNAs prepared from the neuron ball cultures of mouse cortical neurons were analyzed by quantitative real-time RT-PCR. Among 375 miRNAs that were analyzed, 105 miRNAs were detected in axons, and six miRNAs were significantly enriched in axonal fractions when compared with cell body fractions. Fluorescence in situ hybridization revealed that two axon-enriched miRNAs, miR-181a-1* and miR-532, localized as distinct granules in distal axons and growth cones. The association of these miRNAs with the RNA-induced silencing complex further supported their function to regulate mRNA levels or translation in the brain. These results suggest a mechanism to localize specific miRNAs to distal axons and growth cones, where they could be involved in local mRNA regulation. These findings provide new insight into the presence of axonal miRNAs and motivate further analysis of their function in local protein synthesis underlying axon guidance.
Project description:MicroRNAs (miRNAs) selectively localize to subcompartments of the neuron, such as dendrites, axons, and presynaptic terminals, where they regulate the local protein synthesis of their putative target genes. In addition to mature miRNAs, precursor miRNAs (pre-miRNAs) have also been shown to localize to somatodendritic and axonal compartments. miRNA-338 (miR-338) regulates the local expression of several nuclear-encoded mitochondrial mRNAs within axons of sympathetic neurons. Previous work has shown that precursor miR-338 (pre-miR-338) introduced into the axon can locally be processed into mature miR-338, where it can regulate local ATP synthesis. However, the mechanisms underlying the localization of pre-miRNAs to the axonal compartment remain unknown. In this study, we investigated the axonal localization of pre-miR-338. Using proteomic and biochemical approaches, we provide evidence for the localization of pre-miR-338 to distal neuronal compartments and identify several constituents of the pre-miR-338 ribonucleoprotein complex. Furthermore, we found that pre-miR-338 is associated with the mitochondria in axons of superior cervical ganglion (SCG) neurons. The maintenance of mitochondrial function within axons requires the precise spatiotemporal synthesis of nuclear-encoded mRNAs, some of which are regulated by miR-338. Therefore, the association of pre-miR-338 with axonal mitochondria could serve as a reservoir of mature, biologically active miRNAs, which could coordinate the intra-axonal expression of multiple nuclear-encoded mitochondrial mRNAs.
Project description:Guidance cues trigger fast responses in axonal growth cones such as directional turning and collapse that require local protein synthesis. An attractive cue-gradient, such as Netrin-1, triggers de novo synthesis of ?-actin localized to the near-side compartment of the growth cone that promotes F-actin assembly and attractive steering. How this precise spatial asymmetry in mRNA translation arises across the small expanse of the growth cone is poorly understood. Pre-localized mRNAs in the vicinity of activated receptors could be selectively translated and/or new mRNAs could be trafficked into the area. Here we have performed live imaging of fluorescent-tagged ?-actin mRNA to investigate mRNA trafficking dynamics in Xenopus retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons and growth cones in response to Netrin-1. A Netrin-1 gradient was found to elicit the transport of ?-actin mRNA granules to the near-side of growth cones within a 4-7 min window. This polarized mRNA trafficking depended on the 3' untranslated region (UTR) since mRNA-?3'UTR mutant failed to exhibit cue-induced localization. Global application of Netrin-1 significantly increased the anterograde movement of ?-actin mRNA along axons and also promoted microtubule-dependent mRNA excursions from the central domain of the growth cone into the periphery (filopodia and lamellipodia). Dual channel imaging revealed ?-actin mRNA riding behind the microtubule plus-end tracking protein, EB1, in movements along dynamic microtubules into filopodia. The mRNA-EB1 movements were unchanged by a Netrin-1 gradient indicating the dynamic microtubules themselves do not underlie the cue-induced polarity of RNA movement. Finally, fast-moving elongated "worm-like" trains of Cy3-RNA, distinct from mitochondria, were seen transporting RNA along axons in vitro and in vivo suggesting the existence of a novel transport organelle. Overall, the results provide evidence that the axonal trafficking of ?-actin mRNA can be regulated by the guidance cue Netrin-1 to transduce the polarity of an extracellular stimulus and that the 3'UTR is essential for this cue-induced regulation.
Project description:Using a novel microfluidic chamber that allows the isolation of axons without contamination by nonaxonal material, we have for the first time purified mRNA from naive, matured CNS axons, and identified the presence of >300 mRNA transcripts. We demonstrate that the transcripts are axonal in nature, and that many of the transcripts present in uninjured CNS axons overlap with those previously identified in PNS injury-conditioned DRG axons. The axonal transcripts detected in matured cortical axons are enriched for protein translational machinery, transport, cytoskeletal components, and mitochondrial maintenance. We next investigated how the axonal mRNA pool changes after axotomy, revealing that numerous gene transcripts related to intracellular transport, mitochondria and the cytoskeleton show decreased localization 2 d after injury. In contrast, gene transcripts related to axonal targeting and synaptic function show increased localization in regenerating cortical axons, suggesting that there is an increased capacity for axonal outgrowth and targeting, and increased support for synapse formation and presynaptic function in regenerating CNS axons after injury. Our data demonstrate that CNS axons contain many mRNA species of diverse functions, and suggest that, like invertebrate and PNS axons, CNS axons synthesize proteins locally, maintaining a degree of autonomy from the cell body.
Project description:microRNAs (miRNAs) are critical for neuronal function and their dysregulation is repeatedly observed in neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we implemented high content image analysis for investigating the impact of several miRNAs in mouse primary motor neurons. This survey directed our attention to the neuron-specific miR-124, which controls axonal morphology. By performing next generation sequencing analysis and molecular studies, we characterized novel roles for miR-124 in control of mitochondria localization and function. We further demonstrated that the intermediate filament Vimentin is a key target of miR-124 in this system. Our data establishes a new pathway for control of mitochondria function in motor neurons, revealing the value of a neuron-specific miRNA gene as a mechanism for the re-shaping of otherwise ubiquitously-expressed intermediate filament network, upstream of mitochondria activity and cellular metabolism.
Project description:We sought to define the clinical and ultrastructure effects of ixabepilone (Ix), a microtubule-stabilizing chemotherapy agent on cutaneous sensory nerves and to investigate a potential mitochondrial toxicity mechanism.Ten breast cancer patients receiving Ix underwent total neuropathy score clinical (TNSc) assessment, distal leg skin biopsies at cycle (Cy) 3 (80-90 mg/m(2)), Cy5 (160-190 mg/m(2)), and Cy7 (>200 mg/m(2)) and were compared to 5 controls. Skin blocks were processed for EM and ultrastructural morphometry of Remak axons done.At baseline, Ix-treated subjects had higher TNSc values (4.5 ± 0.8 vs. 0.0 ± 0.0), greater percentage of empty (denervated) Schwann cells (29% vs. 12%), altered axonal diameter (422.9 ± 17 vs. 354.9 ± 14.8 nm, P = 0.01), and axon profiles without mitochondria tended to increase compared to control subjects (71% vs. 70%). With increasing cumulative Ix exposure, an increase in TNSc values (Cy3: 5.4 ± 1.2, Cy7: 10 ± 4, P < 0.001), empty Schwann cells (39% by Cy7), and dilated axons (in nm, Cy3: 506.3 ± 22.1, Cy5: 534.8 ± 33, Cy7: 527.8 ± 24.4; P < 0.001) was observed. In addition, axon profiles without mitochondria (Cy3:74%, Cy7:78%) and mitochondria with abnormal morphology (grade 3 or 4) increased from 24% to 79%. Schwann cells with atypical mitochondria and perineuronal macrophage infiltration in dermis were noted.This study provides functional and structural evidence that Ix exposure induces a dose-dependent toxicity on small sensory fibers with an increase in TNSc scores and progressive axonal loss. Mitochondria appear to bear the cumulative toxic effect and chemotherapy-induced toxicity can be monitored through serial skin biopsy-based analysis.
Project description:The branching of axons is a fundamental aspect of nervous system development and neuroplasticity. We report that branching of sensory axons in the presence of nerve growth factor (NGF) occurs at sites populated by stalled mitochondria. Translational machinery targets to presumptive branching sites, followed by recruitment of mitochondria to these sites. The mitochondria promote branching through ATP generation and the determination of localized hot spots of active axonal mRNA translation, which contribute to actin-dependent aspects of branching. In contrast, mitochondria do not have a role in the regulation of the microtubule cytoskeleton during NGF-induced branching. Collectively, these observations indicate that sensory axons exhibit multiple potential sites of translation, defined by presence of translational machinery, but active translation occurs following the stalling and respiration of mitochondria at these potential sites of translation. This study reveals a local role for axonal mitochondria in the regulation of the actin cytoskeleton and axonal mRNA translation underlying branching.
Project description:Endocytosis of amyloid-? precursor protein (APP) is thought to represent the major source of substrate for the production of the amyloidogenic A? peptide by the ?-secretase BACE1. The irreversible nature of proteolytic cleavage implies the existence of an efficient replenishment route for APP from its sites of synthesis to the cell surface. We recently found that APP exits the trans-Golgi network in intimate association with calsyntenin-1, a transmembrane cargo-docking protein for Kinesin-1-mediated vesicular transport. Here we characterized the function of calsyntenin-1 in neuronal APP transport using selective immunoisolation of intracellular trafficking organelles, immunocytochemistry, live-imaging, and RNAi. We found that APP is co-transported with calsyntenin-1 along axons to early endosomes in the central region of growth cones in carriers that exclude the ?-secretase ADAM10. Intriguingly, calsyntenin-1/APP organelles contained BACE1, suggesting premature cleavage of APP along its anterograde path. However, we found that APP contained in calsyntenin-1/APP organelles was stable. We further analyzed vesicular trafficking of APP in cultured hippocampal neurons, in which calsyntenin-1 was reduced by RNAi. We found a markedly increased co-localization of APP and ADAM10 in axons and growth cones, along with increased proteolytic processing of APP and A? secretion in these neurons. This suggested that the reduced capacity for calsyntenin-1-dependent APP transport resulted in mis-sorting of APP into additional axonal carriers and, therefore, the premature encounter of unprotected APP with its ectodomain proteases. In combination, our results characterize calsyntenin-1/APP organelles as carriers for sheltered anterograde axonal transport of APP.
Project description:Axonal growth cones synthesize proteins during development and in response to injury in adult animals. Proteins locally translated in axons are used to generate appropriate responses to guidance cues, contribute to axon growth, and can serve as retrograde messengers. In addition to growth cones, mRNAs and translational machinery are also found along the lengths of axons where synapses form en passant, but contributions of intra-axonal translation to developing synapses are poorly understood. Here, we engineered a subcellular-targeting translational repressor to inhibit mRNA translation in axons, and we used this strategy to investigate presynaptic contributions of cap-dependent protein translation to developing CNS synapses. Our data show that intra-axonal mRNA translation restrains synaptic vesicle recycling pool size and that one target of this regulation is p35, a Cdk5 activating protein. Cdk5/p35 signaling regulates the size of vesicle recycling pools, p35 levels diminish when cap-dependent translation is repressed, and restoring p35 levels rescues vesicle recycling pools from the effects of spatially targeted translation repression. Together our findings show that intra-axonal synthesis of p35 is required for normal vesicle recycling in developing neurons, and that targeted translational repression provides a novel strategy to investigate extrasomal protein synthesis in neurons.
Project description:Mitochondria are widely distributed via regulated transport in neurons, but their sites of biogenesis remain uncertain. Most mitochondrial proteins are encoded in the nuclear genome, and evidence has suggested that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication occurs mainly or entirely in the cell body. However, it has also become clear that nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins can be translated in the axon and that components of the mitochondrial replication machinery reside there as well. We assessed directly whether mtDNA replication can occur in the axons of chick peripheral neurons labeled with 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU). In axons that were physically separated from the cell body or had disrupted organelle transport between the cell bodies and axons, a significant fraction of mtDNA synthesis continued. We also detected the mitochondrial fission protein Drp1 in neurons by immunofluorescence or expression of GFP-Drp1. Its presence and distribution on the majority of axonal mitochondria indicated that a substantial number had undergone recent division in the axon. Because the morphology of mitochondria is maintained by the balance of fission and fusion events, we either inhibited Drp1 expression by RNAi or overexpressed the fusion protein Mfn1. Both methods resulted in significantly longer mitochondria in axons, including many at a great distance from the cell body. These data indicate that mitochondria can replicate their DNA, divide, and fuse locally within the axon; thus, the biogenesis of mitochondria is not limited to the cell body.