Axonal and presynaptic protein synthesis: new insights into the biology of the neuron

Trends Neurosci. 2002 Aug;25(8):400-4. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(02)02188-4.


The presence of a local mRNA translation system in axons and terminals was proposed almost 40 years ago. Over the ensuing period, an impressive body of evidence has grown to support this proposal -- yet the nerve cell body is still considered to be the only source of axonal and presynaptic proteins. To dispel this lingering neglect, we now present the wealth of recent observations bearing on this central idea, and consider their impact on our understanding of the biology of the neuron. We demonstrate that extrasomatic translation sites, which are now well recognized in dendrites, are also present in axonal and presynaptic compartments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Compartmentation / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Growth Cones / metabolism
  • Growth Cones / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure
  • Protein Biosynthesis / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Ribosomes / metabolism
  • Ribosomes / ultrastructure


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger