A decline in proteasome function is causally connected to neuronal aging and aging-associated neuropathologies. By using hippocampal neurons in culture and in vivo, we show that aging triggers a reduction and a cytoplasm-to-nucleus redistribution of the E3 ubiquitin ligase mahogunin (MGRN1). Proteasome impairment induces MGRN1 monoubiquitination, the key post-translational modification for its nuclear entry. One potential mechanism for MGRN1 monoubiquitination is via progressive deubiquitination at the proteasome of polyubiquitinated MGRN1. Once in the nucleus, MGRN1 potentiates the transcriptional cellular response to proteotoxic stress. Inhibition of MGRN1 impairs ATF3-mediated neuronal responsiveness to proteosomal stress and increases neuronal stress, while increasing MGRN1 ameliorates signs of neuronal aging, including cognitive performance in old animals. Our results imply that, among others, the strength of neuronal survival in a proteasomal deterioration background, like during aging, depends on the fine-tuning of ubiquitination-deubiquitination.
Every spring, deer cast their old antlers and initiate a regeneration process, which yields a new set of antlers of up to 1m in length. Over the course of three months, branches of the trigeminal nerve, originating from the frontal skull, innervate velvet, a modified skin that covers the regenerating antler. The rate of growth of these axons reaches up to 2cm per day making them the fastest regenerating axons in adult mammals. Here, we aim to identify the factors secreted by velvet that promote such high speed axon growth. Our experiments with cultures of adult rat trigeminal neurons demonstrate that conditioned medium harvested from velvet organotypic cultures has greater axon growth-promoting properties than a medium conditioned by normal skin. The axon growth-promoting effects of velvet act synergistically with the extracellular matrix (ECM) protein laminin, a component of the basal lamina present in the deer antler. Our proteomic analyses identified several axon growth promoters in the velvet-conditioned medium (VCM), including soluble proteins such as nerve growth factor (NGF) and apolipoprotein A-1, as well as matrix extracellular proteins, such as periostin and SPARC. Additional in vitro analyses allowed us to determine that a synergic relationship between periostin and NGF may contribute to neurite growth-promoting effects of velvet secretome. A combinatorial approach using these factors may promote regeneration at high speeds in patients with peripheral neuropathies.