Presynaptic protein synthesis and brain plasticity: From physiology to neuropathology

Prog Neurobiol. 2021 Jul;202:102051. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2021.102051. Epub 2021 Apr 9.


To form and maintain extremely intricate and functional neural circuitry, mammalian neurons are typically endowed with highly arborized dendrites and a long axon. The synapses that link neurons to neurons or to other cells are numerous and often too remote for the cell body to make and deliver new proteins to the right place in time. Moreover, synapses undergo continuous activity-dependent changes in their number and strength, establishing the basis of neural plasticity. The innate dilemma is then how a highly complex neuron provides new proteins for its cytoplasmic periphery and individual synapses to support synaptic plasticity. Here, we review a growing body of evidence that local protein synthesis in discrete sites of the axon and presynaptic terminals plays crucial roles in synaptic plasticity, and that deregulation of this local translation system is implicated in various pathologies of the nervous system.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Fragile X syndrome; Neurodegenerative diseases; Presynaptic protein synthesis; Psychiatric disorders; Synaptic plasticity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons
  • Neuronal Plasticity*
  • Neurons
  • Presynaptic Terminals
  • Synapses*