RNA translation in axons

Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2004;20:505-23. doi: 10.1146/annurev.cellbio.20.010403.111746.


The cell body has classically been considered the exclusive source of axonal proteins. However, significant evidence has accumulated recently to support the view that protein synthesis can occur in axons themselves, remote from the cell body. Indeed, local translation in axons may be integral to aspects of synaptogenesis, long-term facilitation, and memory storage in invertebrate axons, and for growth cone navigation in response to environmental stimuli in developing vertebrate axons. Here we review the evidence supporting mRNA translation in axons and discuss the potential roles that local protein synthesis may play during development and subsequent neuronal function. We advance the view that local translation provides a rapid supply of nascent proteins in restricted axonal compartments that can potentially underlie long-term responses to transient stimuli.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Invertebrates / metabolism
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Vertebrates / metabolism


  • RNA, Messenger