HDAC6 regulates mitochondrial transport in hippocampal neurons

PLoS One. 2010 May 26;5(5):e10848. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010848.


Background: Tubulin is a major substrate of the cytoplasmic class II histone deacetylase HDAC6. Inhibition of HDAC6 results in higher levels of acetylated tubulin and enhanced binding of the motor protein kinesin-1 to tubulin, which promotes transport of cargoes along microtubules. Microtubule-dependent intracellular trafficking may therefore be regulated by modulating the activity of HDAC6. We have shown previously that the neuromodulator serotonin increases mitochondrial movement in hippocampal neurons via the Akt-GSK3beta signaling pathway. Here, we demonstrate a role for HDAC6 in this signaling pathway.

Methodology/principal findings: We found that the presence of tubacin, a specific HDAC6 inhibitor, dramatically enhanced mitochondrial movement in hippocampal neurons, whereas niltubacin, an inactive tubacin analog, had no effect. Compared to control cultures, higher levels of acetylated tubulin were found in neurons treated with tubacin, and more kinesin-1 was associated with mitochondria isolated from these neurons. Inhibition of GSK3beta decreased cytoplasmic deacetylase activity and increased tubulin acetylation, whereas blockade of Akt, which phosphorylates and down-regulates GSK3beta, increased cytoplasmic deacetylase activity and decreased tubulin acetylation. Concordantly, the administration of 5-HT, 8-OH-DPAT (a specific 5-HT1A receptor agonist), or fluoxetine (a 5-HT reuptake inhibitor) increased tubulin acetylation. GSK3beta was found to co-localize with HDAC6 in hippocampal neurons, and inhibition of GSK3beta resulted in decreased binding of antibody to phosphoserine-22, a potential GSK3beta phosphorylation site in HDAC6. GSK3beta may therefore regulate HDAC6 activity by phosphorylation.

Conclusions/significance: This study demonstrates that HDAC6 plays an important role in the modulation of mitochondrial transport. The link between HDAC6 and GSK3beta, established here, has important implications for our understanding of neurodegenerative disorders. In particular, abnormal mitochondrial transport, which has been observed in such disorders as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease, could result from the misregulation of HDAC6 by GSK3beta. HDAC6 may therefore constitute an attractive target in the treatment of these disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation / drug effects
  • Anilides / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / metabolism
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Hydroxamic Acids / pharmacology
  • Kinesin / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / enzymology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • Anilides
  • Hydroxamic Acids
  • Tubulin
  • tubacin
  • Serotonin
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3
  • Histone Deacetylases
  • Kinesin