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Cells 2019, 8(1), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells8010034

Emerging Concepts and Functions of Autophagy as a Regulator of Synaptic Components and Plasticity

1
Neurogenetik, Institut für Biologie, Freie Universität Berlin, 14195 Berlin, Germany
2
NeuroCure, Cluster of Excellence, Charité Universitätsmedizin, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Received: 3 December 2018 / Revised: 23 December 2018 / Accepted: 3 January 2019 / Published: 9 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Proteostasis and Autophagy)
PDF [328 KB, uploaded 9 January 2019]

Abstract

Protein homeostasis (proteostasis) is crucial to the maintenance of neuronal integrity and function. As the contact sites between neurons, synapses rely heavily on precisely regulated protein-protein interactions to support synaptic transmission and plasticity processes. Autophagy is an effective degradative pathway that can digest cellular components and maintain cellular proteostasis. Perturbations of autophagy have been implicated in aging and neurodegeneration due to a failure to remove damaged proteins and defective organelles. Recent evidence has demonstrated that autophagosome formation is prominent at synaptic terminals and neuronal autophagy is regulated in a compartment-specific fashion. Moreover, synaptic components including synaptic proteins and vesicles, postsynaptic receptors and synaptic mitochondria are known to be degraded by autophagy, thereby contributing to the remodeling of synapses. Indeed, emerging studies indicate that modulation of autophagy may be required for different forms of synaptic plasticity and memory formation. In this review, I will discuss our current understanding of the important role of neuronal/synaptic autophagy in maintaining neuronal function by degrading synaptic components and try to propose a conceptual framework of how the degradation of synaptic components via autophagy might impact synaptic function and contribute to synaptic plasticity.
Keywords: autophagy; synapse; proteostasis; neurons; memory; aging; neurodegeneration; mitochondria; mitophagy; synaptic plasticity autophagy; synapse; proteostasis; neurons; memory; aging; neurodegeneration; mitochondria; mitophagy; synaptic plasticity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Liang, Y. Emerging Concepts and Functions of Autophagy as a Regulator of Synaptic Components and Plasticity. Cells 2019, 8, 34.

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