O-linked beta N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) post-translational modifications govern axon regeneration
Taub, Daniel Garrison
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Axonal regeneration within the mammalian central nervous system following traumatic damage is limited and interventions to enable regrowth is a crucial goal in regenerative medicine. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is an excellent model to identify the intrinsic genetic programs that govern axonal regrowth. Here we demonstrate that alterations in O-linked N- beta-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) post-translational modifications of proteins can increase the regenerative potential of individual neurons. O-GlcNAc are single monosaccharide protein modifications that occur on serines/threonines in nucleocytoplasmic compartments. Changes in O-GlcNAc levels serve as a sensor of cellular nutrients and acts in part through the insulin-signaling pathway. Loss of O-GlcNAc via mutation of the O-GlcNAc Transferase (OGT), the enzyme that adds O-GlcNAc onto target proteins, enhances regeneration by 70%. Remarkably, hyper-O-GlcNAcyation via mutation of the O-GlcNAcase (OGA), the enzyme that removes O-GlcNAc from target proteins, also enhances regeneration by 40%. Our results shed light on this apparent contradiction by demonstrating that O-GlcNAc enzyme mutants differentially modulate the insulin-signaling pathway. OGT mutants act through AKT1 to modulate glycolysis. In contrast, OGA mutants act through the FOXO/DAF-16 transcription factor to improve the mitochondrial stress response. These findings reveal for the first time the importance of O-GlcNAc post-translational modifications in axon regeneration and provide evidence that regulation of metabolic programs can dictate the regenerative capacity of a neuron.
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