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Regulation of neurofilament dynamics by phosphorylation

Authors

  • Thomas B. Shea,

    1. Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research, Departments of Biological Sciences and Biochemistry, University of Massachusetts Lowell, One University Avenue, Lowell, MA 01854, USA
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  • Walter K.-H. Chan

    1. Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration Research, Departments of Biological Sciences and Biochemistry, University of Massachusetts Lowell, One University Avenue, Lowell, MA 01854, USA
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Dr T. B. Shea, as above.
E-mail: Thomas_Shea@uml.edu

Abstract

Neurofilament (NF) phosphorylation has long been considered to regulate axonal transport rate and in doing so to provide stability to mature axons. Studies utilizing mice in which the C-terminal region of NF subunits (which contains the vast majority of phosphorylation sites) has been deleted has prompted an ongoing challenge to this hypothesis. We evaluate the collective evidence to date for and against a role for NF C-terminal phosphorylation in regulation of axonal transport and in providing structural support for axons, including some novel studies from our laboratory. We present a few suggestions for further experimentation in this area, and expand upon previous models for axonal NF dynamics. Finally, we address how C-terminal phosphorylation is regionally and temporally regulated by a balance of kinase and phosphatase activities, and how misregulation of this balance can contribute to motor neuron disease.

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