Contributions of Bcl-xL to acute and long term changes in bioenergetics during neuronal plasticity
Jonas, Elizabeth A.
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Mitochondria manufacture and release metabolites and manage calcium during neuronal activity and synaptic transmission, but whether long term alterations in mitochondrial function contribute to neuronal plasticity that underlies changes in organism behavior patterns is still poorly understood. Although normal neuronal plasticity may determine learning, in contrast a persistent decline in synaptic strength or neuronal excitability may portend neurite retraction and eventual somatic death. Anti-death proteins such as Bcl-xL provide neuroprotection at the neuronal soma during cell death stimuli, but also appear to enhance neurotransmitter release and synaptic growth and development. It is proposed that Bcl-xL performs these functions through its ability to regulate mitochondrial release of bioenergetic metabolites and calcium, its ability to rapidly alter mitochondrial positioning and morphology as well as its role in interacting with proteins that directly alter synaptic vesicle recycling. Bcl-xL translocates acutely to sub-cellular membranes during neuronal activity to achieve these changes. After stressful stimuli, pro-apoptotic cleaved delta N Bcl-xL (ΔN Bcl-xL)-induced mitochondrial ion channel activity leads to synaptic depression and this is regulated by caspase activation. During physiological states of decreased synaptic stimulation, loss of mitochondrial Bcl-xL and low level caspase activation occur prior to the onset of long term decline in synaptic efficacy. The degree to which Bcl-xL changes mitochondrial membrane permeability may control the direction of change in synaptic strength. The small molecule Bcl-xL inhibitor ABT-737 has been useful in defining the role of Bcl-xL in synaptic processes. Bcl-xL is crucial to the normal health of neurons and synapses and its malfunction may contribute to neurodegenerative disease.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2013. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular Basis of Disease 1842 (2014): 1168–1178, doi:10.1016/j.bbadis.2013.11.007.