Locally translated mTOR controls axonal local translation in nerve injury

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Science  23 Mar 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6382, pp. 1416-1421
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan1053

Local control of localized protein synthesis

Localized protein synthesis provides spatiotemporal precision for injury responses and growth decisions at remote positions in nerve axons. Terenzio et al. show that this process is controlled by local translation of preexisting axonal mRNA encoding the master regulator mTOR (see the Perspective by Riccio). mTOR controls both its own synthesis and that of most newly synthesized proteins at axonal injury sites, thereby determining the subsequent survival and growth of the injured neuron.

Science, this issue p. 1416; see also p. 1331


How is protein synthesis initiated locally in neurons? We found that mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) was activated and then up-regulated in injured axons, owing to local translation of mTOR messenger RNA (mRNA). This mRNA was transported into axons by the cell size–regulating RNA-binding protein nucleolin. Furthermore, mTOR controlled local translation in injured axons. This included regulation of its own translation and that of retrograde injury signaling molecules such as importin β1 and STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3). Deletion of the mTOR 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) in mice reduced mTOR in axons and decreased local translation after nerve injury. Both pharmacological inhibition of mTOR in axons and deletion of the mTOR 3′UTR decreased proprioceptive neuronal survival after nerve injury. Thus, mRNA localization enables spatiotemporal control of mTOR pathways regulating local translation and long-range intracellular signaling.

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