DOI: 10.1111/tra.12926 ISSN: 1398-9219

A vesicular Warburg effect: Aerobic glycolysis occurs on axonal vesicles for local NAD+ recycling and transport

Maximilian Mc Cluskey, Hervé Dubouchaud, Anne‐Sophie Nicot, Frédéric Saudou
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Structural Biology


In neurons, fast axonal transport (FAT) of vesicles occurs over long distances and requires constant and local energy supply for molecular motors in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). FAT is independent of mitochondrial metabolism. Indeed, the glycolytic machinery is present on vesicles and locally produces ATP, as well as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide bonded with hydrogen (NADH) and pyruvate, using glucose as a substrate. It remains unclear whether pyruvate is transferred to mitochondria from the vesicles as well as how NADH is recycled into NAD+ on vesicles for continuous glycolysis activity. The optimization of a glycolytic activity test for subcellular compartments allowed the evaluation of the kinetics of vesicular glycolysis in the brain. This revealed that glycolysis is more efficient on vesicles than in the cytosol. We also found that lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) enzymatic activity is required for effective vesicular ATP production. Indeed, inhibition of LDH or the forced degradation of pyruvate inhibited ATP production from axonal vesicles. We found LDHA rather than the B isoform to be enriched on axonal vesicles suggesting a preferential transformation of pyruvate to lactate and a concomitant recycling of NADH into NAD+ on vesicles. Finally, we found that LDHA inhibition dramatically reduces the FAT of both dense‐core vesicles and synaptic vesicle precursors in a reconstituted cortico‐striatal circuit on‐a‐chip. Together, this shows that aerobic glycolysis is required to supply energy for vesicular transport in neurons, similar to the Warburg effect.

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