Cytoskeletal dysfunction has been proposed during the last decade as one of the main mechanisms involved in the aetiology of several neurodegenerative diseases. Microtubules are basic elements of the cytoskeleton and the dysregulation of microtubule stability has been demonstrated to be causative for axonal transport impairment, synaptic contact degeneration, impaired neuronal function leading finally to neuronal loss. Several pathways are implicated in the microtubule assembly/disassembly process. Emerging evidence is focusing on Notch as a microtubule dynamics regulator. We demonstrated that activation of Notch signalling results in increased microtubule stability and changes in axonal morphology and branching. By contrast, Notch inhibition leads to an increase in cytoskeleton plasticity with intense neurite remodelling. Until now, several microtubule-binding compounds have been tested and the results have provided proof of concept that microtubule-binding agents or compounds with the ability to stabilize microtubules may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. In this review, based on its key role in cytoskeletal dynamics modulation, we propose Notch as a new potential target for microtubule stabilization.
Keywords: Notch; Spastin; cytoskeleton; microtubule stabilization; neurodegeneration; structural plasticity.