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Local protein synthesis in developing and degenerating neurons.
Neurons are arguable the cells with the most extreme morphological polarization, with distances between the periphery and the neuronal cell bodies ranging from millimeters to several feet. This extreme architectural polarization is mirrored in the existence of functionally distinct subcellular compartments, chiefly dendrites, axon, and soma. Spatially restricted protein expression is crucial for the establishment and maintenance of polarized neuronal morphology and function. Indeed, it has become apparent that alterations of polarized protein expression can cause or contribute to the pathogenesis of a wide variety of disorders. Our laboratory studies the physiological role of intra-axonal translation during development as well as the possible role of local protein synthesis during neurodegenerative disorders, especially Alzheimer's disease. We seek to understand how changes in local protein synthesis can either attenuate or ameliorate neuronal integrity in AD brain.