Sarm1-mediated axon degeneration requires both SAM and TIR interactions

Gerdts J, Summers DW, Sasaki Y, DiAntonio A, Milbrandt J; (2013) Journal of Neuroscience, 33 (33), pp. 13569-13580. Read More

Abstract

Axon degeneration is an evolutionarily conserved pathway that eliminates damaged or unneeded axons. Manipulation of this poorly understood pathway may allow treatment of a wide range of neurological disorders. In an RNAi-based screen performed in cultured mouse DRG neurons, we observed strong suppression of injury-induced axon degeneration upon knockdown of Sarm1 [SARM (sterile α-motif-containing and armadillo-motif containing protein)]. We find that a SARM-dependent degeneration program is engaged by disparate neuronal insults: SARM ablation blocks axon degeneration induced by axotomy or vincristine treatment, while SARM acts in parallel with a soma-derived caspase-dependent pathway following trophic withdrawal. SARM is a multidomain protein that associates with neuronal mitochondria. Deletion of the N-terminal mitochondrial localization sequence disrupts SARM mitochondrial localization in neurons but does not alter its ability to promote axon degeneration. In contrast, mutation of either the SAM (sterile α motif) or TIR (Toll-interleukin-1 receptor) domains abolishes the ability of SARM to promote axonal degeneration, while a SARM mutant containing only these domains elicits axon degeneration and nonapoptotic neuronal death even in the absence of injury. Protein-protein interaction studies demonstrate that the SAM domains are necessary and sufficient to mediate SARM-SARM binding. SARM mutants lacking a TIR domain bind full-length SARM and exhibit strong dominant-negative activity. These results indicate that SARM plays an integral role in the dismantling of injured axons and support a model in which SAM-mediated multimerization is necessary for TIR-dependent engagement of a downstream destruction pathway. These findings suggest that inhibitors of SAM and TIR interactions represent therapeutic candidates for blocking pathological axon loss and neuronal cell death. © 2013 the authors.

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Posted on September 3, 2013
Posted in: Axon Injury & Repair, Publications Authors: ,