Specific phospholipid scramblases are involved in exposure of phosphatidylserine, an "eat-me" signal for phagocytes, on degenerating axons

Commun Integr Biol. 2017 Feb 17;10(2):e1296615. doi: 10.1080/19420889.2017.1296615. eCollection 2017.


Axonal degeneration is a key pathological feature of several neurological disorders. Emerging evidence has suggested a pathological connection between axonal degeneration and autophagy, a lysosomal degradation pathway. We recently reported that GSK3B-mediated phosphorylation of MCL1 regulates axonal autophagy to promote axonal degeneration. GSK3B-MCL1 pathway affects ATP production locally in degenerating axons and the exposure of phosphatidylserine (PS), an "eat-me" signal for phagocytes, on degenerating axons, resulting in the failed engulfment of axonal debris in vivo. Here we showed that the PS exposure is accomplished by phospholipid scramblase activity. This finding provides a novel mechanism that local ATP production through autophagy promotes PS exposure on degenerating axons. In addition, it opens new perspectives for the understanding of axonal autophagy to regulate Wallerian degeneration.

Keywords: Wallerian degeneration; autophagy; phospholipid scramblase; ubiquitin-proteasome system.