Trakhtenberg EF, Wang Y, Morkin MI, Fernandez SG, Mlacker GM, Shechter JM, Liu X, Patel KH, Lapins A, Yang S, Dombrowski SM, Goldberg JL
The failure of the CNS neurons to regenerate axons after injury or stroke is a major clinical problem. Transcriptional regulators like Set-β are well positioned to regulate intrinsic axon regeneration capacity, which declines developmentally in maturing CNS neurons. Set-β also functions at cellular membranes and its subcellular localization is disrupted in Alzheimer's disease, but many of its biological mechanisms have not been explored in neurons. We found that Set-β was upregulated postnatally in CNS neurons, and was primarily localized to the nucleus but was also detected in the cytoplasm and adjacent to the plasma membrane. Remarkably, nuclear Set-β suppressed, whereas Set-β localized to cytoplasmic membranes promoted neurite growth in rodent retinal ganglion cells and hippocampal neurons. Mimicking serine 9 phosphorylation, as found in Alzheimer's disease brains, delayed nuclear import and furthermore blocked the ability of nuclear Set-β to suppress neurite growth. We also present data on gene regulation and protein binding partner recruitment by Set-β in primary neurons, raising the hypothesis that nuclear Set-β may preferentially regulate gene expression whereas Set-β at cytoplasmic membranes may regulate unique cofactors, including PP2A, which we show also regulates axon growth in vitro. Finally, increasing recruitment of Set-β to cellular membranes promoted adult rat optic nerve axon regeneration after injury in vivo. Thus, Set-β differentially regulates axon growth and regeneration depending on subcellular localization and phosphorylation.