This event will be in-person only for Columbia University Affiliates and will not offer a Zoom option
Thomas Schwarz, PhD
Professor, FM Kirby Neurobiology Center, Boston Children's Hospital and Department of Neurobiology
Harvard Medical School
Mitochondrial Dynamics and mRNA Transport in Axons
Mitochondria undergo complex and highly regulated movements in all cells, but this movement is particularly crucial for neurons as a means of distributing adequate energy and metabolic supply to every part of the cell and adjusting to changing cellular conditions. Signals that reflect the availability of glucose and the state of the local energy supply are transmitted to the protein complex that couples motors to the mitochondrial surface. The length and extensive branching of many neuronal processes, however, creates an additional challenge for the neuron: how to maintain an adequate supply of healthy mitochondria far from the nucleus, where almost all its component proteins are encoded. Recently, we uncovered a novel function for axonal transport of mitochondria – the cotransport of selected mRNA species that are tethered to the surface of the mitochondrion by binding to synaptojanin2. Mutations of the RNA Recognition Motif within synaptojanin2 prevents the transport of mRNA, including that encoding PINK1, into axons and dendrites. In consequence, the PINK1/Parkin pathway cannot be activated in distal axons, synaptic respiration is reduced, and the synaptic metabolome is altered. RNA transport via mitochondria and synaptojanin2 are thus an adaptation by which neurons can support local protein synthesis far from the soma.
Host(s): Francesca Bartolini (Faculty)
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