Maintenance and degradation of proteins in intact and severed axons: Implications for the mechanism of long-term survival of anucleate crayfish axons
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Protein maintenance and degradation are examined in the severed distal (anucleate) portions of crayfish medial giant axons (MGAs), which remain viable for over 7 months following axotomy. On polyacrylamide gels, the silver-stained protein banding pattern of anucleate MGAs severed from their cell bodies for up to 4 months remains remarkably similar to that of intact MGAs. At 7 months postseverance, some (but not all) proteins are decreased in anucleate MGAs compared to intact MGAs. To determine the half-life of axonally transported proteins, we radiolabeled MGA cell bodies and monitored the degradation of newly synthesized transported proteins. Assuming exponential decay, proteins in the fast component of axonal transport have an average half-life of 14 d in anucleate MGAs and proteins in the slow component have an average half-life of 17 d. Such half-lives are very unlikely to account for the ability of anucleate MGAs to survive for over 7 months after axotomy.