Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

AbstractAxonal damage is an early step in traumatic and neurodegenerative disorders of the central nervous system (CNS). Damaged axons are not able to regenerate sufficiently in the adult mammalian CNS, leading to permanent neurological deficits. Recently, we showed that inhibition of the autophagic protein ULK1 promotes neuroprotection in different models of neurodegeneration. Moreover, we demonstrated previously that axonal protection improves regeneration of lesioned axons. However, whether axonal protection mediated by ULK1 inhibition could also improve axonal regeneration is unknown. Here, we used an adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector to express a dominant-negative form of ULK1 (AAV.ULK1.DN) and investigated its effects on axonal regeneration in the CNS. We show that AAV.ULK1.DN fosters axonal regeneration and enhances neurite outgrowth in vitro. In addition, AAV.ULK1.DN increases neuronal survival and enhances axonal regeneration after optic nerve lesion, and promotes long-term axonal protection after spinal cord injury (SCI) in vivo. Interestingly, AAV.ULK1.DN also increases serotonergic and dopaminergic axon sprouting after SCI. Mechanistically, AAV.ULK1.DN leads to increased ERK1 activation and reduced expression of RhoA and ROCK2. Our findings outline ULK1 as a key regulator of axonal degeneration and regeneration, and define ULK1 as a promising target to promote neuroprotection and regeneration in the CNS.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Death & Disease


Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication Date