Deciphering synaptic autophagy to empower brain health
Université de Bordeaux (France)
27 Jan 2023 13:00
Aketxe Room, Sede Building, Leioa
Synapses are the communication center of the neuron and to secure their metabolic demand and to avoid accumulation of toxic components during intense neuronal communication and development, synapses locally recycle proteins, lipids and even organelles. Neurons are highly polarized cells with most of the protein synthesis and degradation occurring at the soma. This complex morphology implies challenges to transport metabolites, proteins and lipids to and from the synapses, that are often far away from the cell body. Autophagy is an evolutionary conserved “self eating” mechanism critical to maintain cellular homeostasis within the brain. At the synapse, the regulation of this process has compartment-specific mechanisms to degrade and recycle cellular components to support synaptic function and deregulation of synaptic autophagy can impair synaptic homeostasis and jeopardize neuronal survival. Defects in autophagy, together with aberrant protein and lipid accumulation, are present during aging and in neurodegenerative diseases, but how defects in synaptic autophagy are mechanistically linked to synaptic dysfunction, decay and neuronal loss are not fully understood. A deeper understanding of these mechanisms will be necessary to safely exploit autophagy as a therapeutic target to treat brain diseases. I will present some unique characteristics of synaptic autophagy and how my lab is identifying the role of key proteins functioning in the regulation of autophagy and their molecular mechanisms in the context of brain physiopathology.