Wld(S), Nmnats and axon degeneration--progress in the past two decades

Protein Cell. 2010 Mar;1(3):237-45. doi: 10.1007/s13238-010-0021-2. Epub 2010 Feb 23.


A chimeric protein called Wallerian degeneration slow (Wld(S)) was first discovered in a spontaneous mutant strain of mice that exhibited delayed Wallerian degeneration. This provides a useful tool in elucidating the mechanisms of axon degeneration. Over-expression of Wld(S) attenuates the axon degeneration that is associated with several neurodegenerative disease models, suggesting a new logic for developing a potential protective strategy. At molecular level, although Wld(S) is a fusion protein, the nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyl transferase 1 (Nmnat1) is required and sufficient for the protective effects of Wld(S), indicating a critical role of NAD biosynthesis and perhaps energy metabolism in axon degeneration. These findings challenge the proposed model in which axon degeneration is operated by an active programmed process and thus may have important implication in understanding the mechanisms of neurodegeneration. In this review, we will summarize these recent findings and discuss their relevance to the mechanisms of axon degeneration.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Models, Neurological
  • Mutant Proteins / genetics
  • Mutant Proteins / physiology
  • Mutation
  • NAD / biosynthesis
  • Nerve Degeneration / etiology*
  • Nerve Degeneration / genetics
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology*
  • Nicotinamide-Nucleotide Adenylyltransferase / genetics
  • Nicotinamide-Nucleotide Adenylyltransferase / physiology*


  • Mutant Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Wld protein, mouse
  • NAD
  • Nmnat protein, mouse
  • Nicotinamide-Nucleotide Adenylyltransferase