Editors' ChoiceNeuronal Polarization

Energy Requirements for Neuronal Polarization

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Science Signaling  12 Apr 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 168, pp. ec105
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.4168ec105

Neuronal polarization lies at the heart of neuronal development, synaptic wiring, and interneuronal communication. Although much progress has been made in understanding axon growth and path finding, the mechanisms that regulate axonal neurite selection and polarity initiation remain poorly understood. Rapid axon growth requires a large quantity of building material and efficient intracellular transport. Coordination between axon initiation and cellular energy homeostasis may thus be important during the early stages of neuronal polarization. Using cultured hippocampal neurons and embryonic brain slices, Amato et al. investigated the role of adenosine monophosphate–activated protein kinase (AMPK), which is involved in the sensing and regulation of bioenergy homeostasis, in neuronal polarization. Up-regulation of AMPK activity reduced the proportion of neurons possessing a typical axon. The ability of AMPK to inhibit polarization was restricted to the early stages of polarization; AMPK activation after axon initiation did not affect polarization or axon growth.

S. Amato, X. Liu, B. Zheng, L. Cantley, P. Rakic, H.-Y. Man, AMP-activated protein kinase regulates neuronal polarization by interfering with PI 3-kinase localization. Science 332, 247–251 (2011). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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