The functional organization of axonal mRNA transport and translation

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2021 Feb;22(2):77-91. doi: 10.1038/s41583-020-00407-7. Epub 2020 Dec 7.


Axons extend for tremendously long distances from the neuronal soma and make use of localized mRNA translation to rapidly respond to different extracellular stimuli and physiological states. The locally synthesized proteins support many different functions in both developing and mature axons, raising questions about the mechanisms by which local translation is organized to ensure the appropriate responses to specific stimuli. Publications over the past few years have uncovered new mechanisms for regulating the axonal transport and localized translation of mRNAs, with several of these pathways converging on the regulation of cohorts of functionally related mRNAs - known as RNA regulons - that drive axon growth, axon guidance, injury responses, axon survival and even axonal mitochondrial function. Recent advances point to these different regulatory pathways as organizing platforms that allow the axon's proteome to be modulated to meet its physiological needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport*
  • Humans
  • RNA, Messenger*


  • RNA, Messenger