In neurons, the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) forms a highly dynamic network that enters axons and presynaptic terminals and plays a central role in Ca2+ homeostasis and synapse maintenance; however, the underlying mechanisms involved in regulation of its dynamic remodeling as well as its function in axon development and presynaptic differentiation remain elusive. Here, we used high-resolution microscopy and live-cell imaging to investigate rapid movements of the ER and ribosomes in axons of cultured motoneurons after stimulation with brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Our results indicate that the ER extends into axonal growth cone filopodia, where its integrity and dynamic remodeling are regulated mainly by actin and the actin-based motor protein myosin VI (encoded by Myo6). Additionally, we found that in axonal growth cones, ribosomes assemble into 80S subunits within seconds and associate with the ER in response to extracellular stimuli, which describes a novel function of axonal ER in dynamic regulation of local translation.

This article has an associated First Person interview with Chunchu Deng, joint first author of the paper.

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