Columbia University in the City of New York

Dec 12, 202310:30 am

Columbia Neuroscience Seminar - Thomas Schwarz

Mitochondrial Dynamics and mRNA Transport in Axons

December 12th, 10:30 am – 11:30 am at the Jerome L. Greene Science Center (9th floor lecture hall)

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.


Relevant Publications:

Neuronal mitochondria transport Pink1 mRNA via synaptojanin 2 to support local mitophagy

Mitostasis in Neurons: Maintaining Mitochondria in an Extended Cellular Architecture

Host(s): Francesca Bartolini (Faculty) 

Please contact [email protected] with any questions.

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