Local translation in perisynaptic and perivascular astrocytic processes - a means to ensure astrocyte molecular and functional polarity?

J Cell Sci. 2021 Jan 22;134(2):jcs251629. doi: 10.1242/jcs.251629.


Together with the compartmentalization of mRNAs in distal regions of the cytoplasm, local translation constitutes a prominent and evolutionarily conserved mechanism mediating cellular polarization and the regulation of protein delivery in space and time. The translational regulation of gene expression enables a rapid response to stimuli or to a change in the environment, since the use of pre-existing mRNAs can bypass time-consuming nuclear control mechanisms. In the brain, the translation of distally localized mRNAs has been mainly studied in neurons, whose cytoplasmic protrusions may be more than 1000 times longer than the diameter of the cell body. Importantly, alterations in local translation in neurons have been implicated in several neurological diseases. Astrocytes, the most abundant glial cells in the brain, are voluminous, highly ramified cells that project long processes to neurons and brain vessels, and dynamically regulate distal synaptic and vascular functions. Recent research has demonstrated the presence of local translation at these astrocytic interfaces that might regulate the functional compartmentalization of astrocytes. In this Review, we summarize our current knowledge about the localization and local translation of mRNAs in the distal perisynaptic and perivascular processes of astrocytes, and discuss their possible contribution to the molecular and functional polarity of astrocytes.

Keywords: Astrocyte; Local translation; mRNA distribution.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Astrocytes*
  • Neurons
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Synapses*


  • RNA, Messenger