Antonio Giuditta

Emeritus Professor of Physiology

Name Antonio
Surname Giuditta
Institution University of Naples – Federico II
Address Department of Biology, University of Naples Federico II, Via Cinthia, 80126, Naples, Italy
Antonio Giuditta


  • Nerve terminals of squid photoreceptor neurons contain a heterogeneous population of mRNAs and translate a transfected reporter mRNA.

    Publication Date: 01/08/2004 on The European journal of neuroscience
    by Gioio AE, Lavina ZS, Jurkovicova D, Zhang H, Eyman M, Giuditta A, Kaplan BB
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2004.03538.x

    It is now well established that the distal structural/functional domains of the neuron contain 2a diverse population of mRNAs that program the local synthesis of protein. However, there is still a paucity of information on the composition and function of these mRNA populations in the adult nervous system. To generate empirically, hypotheses regarding the function of the local protein synthetic system, we have compared the mRNAs present in the squid giant axon and its parental cell bodies using differential mRNA display as an unbiased screen. The results of this screen facilitated the identification of 31 mRNAs that encoded cytoskeletal proteins, translation factors, ribosomal proteins, molecular motors, metabolic enzymes, nuclear-encoded mitochondrial mRNAs, and a molecular chaperone. Results of cell fractionation and RT-PCR analyses established that several of these mRNAs were present in polysomes present in the presynaptic nerve terminal of photoreceptor neurons, indicating that these mRNAs were being actively translated. Findings derived from in vitro transfection studies established that these isolated nerve terminals had the ability to translate a heterologous reporter mRNA. Based upon these data, it is hypothesized that the local protein synthetic system plays an important role in the maintenance/remodelling of the cytoarchitecture of the axon and nerve terminal, maintenance of the axon transport and mRNA translation systems, as well as contributing to the viability and function of the local mitochondria.

  • Squid photoreceptor terminals synthesize calexcitin, a learning related protein.

    Publication Date: 14/08/2003 on Neuroscience letters
    by Eyman M, Crispino M, Kaplan BB, Giuditta A

    Nerve endings of squid photoreceptor neurons generate large synaptosomes upon homogenization of the optic lobe. Using several independent methods, these presynaptic structures have been shown to synthesize a wealth of soluble, cytoskeletal and nuclear encoded mitochondrial proteins, and to account for essentially all the translation activity of the synaptosomal fraction. We are now presenting evidence that calexcitin, a learning related, Ca(2+)-binding protein of the B photoreceptors of Hermissenda crassicornis (a mollusk), is synthesized and subjected to post-translational modifications in the squid photoreceptor terminals. In view of the essential role of presynaptic protein synthesis in long-term memory formation in Aplysia, our data suggest that a comparable role may be played by calexcitin synthesized in the squid photoreceptor terminals.

  • Waking EEG power spectra in the rat: correlations with training performance.

    Publication Date: 01/06/2003 on Brain research. Cognitive brain research
    by Mandile P, Giuditta A, Romano F, Montagnese P, Piscopo S, Cotugno M, Vescia S

    Adult rats chronically implanted with supradural electrodes were telemetrically EEG recorded during a baseline session, a training session for a two-way active avoidance task, and a retention session. Rats were assigned to a fast learning (FL), slow learning (SL) and non learning (NL) group if they achieved criterion during the training session, the retention session, or in neither session. High-resolution EEG analyses indicated that intergroup differences were present in the low frequency range of waking baseline power spectra. Moreover, baseline delta emissions directly correlated with freezings, and inversely correlated with avoidances, while emissions at 7-10 Hz directly correlated with avoidances and inversely correlated with freezings. Interestingly, during the first training period, waking delta emission selectively increased in FL rats in concomitance with a marked performance improvement; instead, SL and NL rats displayed increments at 7-9 Hz. In addition, freezings scored during the first two training periods directly correlated with post-training waking emission at 2 Hz, and inversely correlated with emission at 7-10 Hz. Conversely, escapes and avoidances directly correlated with waking emission at 7-10 Hz. The data indicate that (i) waking baseline power spectra differ among behavioral groups, and correlate with behavioral performance the following day; (ii) selective modifications of waking power spectra occur in each behavioral group during training; and (iii) behavioral responses during training correlate with post-training waking power spectra. Notably, the delta increment selectively occurring in training FL rats is assumed to reflect online memory processing leading to better performance. The latter observation supports the primary involvement of delta waves in learning.

  • Gene expression in the squid giant axon: neurotransmitter modulation of RNA transfer from periaxonal glia to the axon.

    Publication Date: 01/10/2002 on The Biological bulletin
    by Giuditta A, Eyman M, Kaplan BB
    DOI: 10.2307/1543389
  • Axonal and presynaptic protein synthesis: new insights into the biology of the neuron.

    Publication Date: 01/08/2002 on Trends in neurosciences
    by Giuditta A, Kaplan BB, van Minnen J, Alvarez J, Koenig E

    The presence of a local mRNA translation system in axons and terminals was proposed almost 40 years ago. Over the ensuing period, an impressive body of evidence has grown to support this proposal -- yet the nerve cell body is still considered to be the only source of axonal and presynaptic proteins. To dispel this lingering neglect, we now present the wealth of recent observations bearing on this central idea, and consider their impact on our understanding of the biology of the neuron. We demonstrate that extrasomatic translation sites, which are now well recognized in dendrites, are also present in axonal and presynaptic compartments.

  • Protein synthesis in synaptosomes: a proteomics analysis.

    Publication Date: 01/05/2002 on Journal of neurochemistry
    by Jiménez CR, Eyman M, Lavina ZS, Gioio A, Li KW, van der Schors RC, Geraerts WP, Giuditta A, Kaplan BB, van Minnen J

    A proteomics approach was used to identify the translation products of a unique synaptic model system, squid optic lobe synaptosomes. Unlike its vertebrate counterparts, this preparation is largely free of perikaryal cell fragments and consists predominantly of pre-synaptic terminals derived from retinal photoreceptor neurones. We metabolically labelled synaptosomes with [(35)S] methionine and applied two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to resolve newly synthesized proteins at high resolution. Autoradiographs of blotted two-dimensional gels revealed de novo synthesis of about 80 different proteins, 18 of which could be matched to silver-stained gels that were run in parallel. In-gel digestion of the matched spots and mass spectrometric analyses revealed the identities of various cytosolic enzymes, cytoskeletal proteins, molecular chaperones and nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins. A number of novel proteins (i.e. not matching with database sequences) were also detected. In situ hybridization was employed to confirm the presence of mRNA and rRNA in synaptosomes. Together, our data show that pre-synaptic endings of squid photoreceptor neurones actively synthesize a wide variety of proteins involved in synaptic functioning, such as transmitter recycling, energy supply and synaptic architecture.

  • Messenger RNAs in synaptosomal fractions from rat brain.

    Publication Date: 30/12/2001 on Brain research. Molecular brain research
    by Crispino M, Capano CP, Aiello A, Iannetti E, Cupello A, Giuditta A

    Synaptosomal fractions from rat brain have been analyzed with semi-quantitative RT-PCR methods to determine their content of mRNAs coding for presynaptic, postsynaptic, glial, and neuronal proteins. Each mRNA was determined with reference to the standard HPRT mRNA. In our analyses, mRNAs were considered to be associated with synaptosomes only if their relative amounts were higher than in microsomes prepared in a polysome stabilizing medium, rich in Mg(++) and K(+) ions, or in the homogenate. According to this stringent criterion, the following synaptosomal mRNAs could not be attributed to microsomal contamination and were assumed to derive from the subcellular structures known to harbor their translation products, i.e. GAT-1 mRNAs from presynaptic terminals and glial processes, MAP2 mRNA from dendrites, GFAP mRNA from glial processes, and TAU mRNA from neuronal fragments. This interpretation is in agreement with the involvement of extrasomatic mRNAs in local translation processes.

  • Local synthesis of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins in the presynaptic nerve terminal.

    Publication Date: 01/06/2001 on Journal of neuroscience research
    by Gioio AE, Eyman M, Zhang H, Lavina ZS, Giuditta A, Kaplan BB
    DOI: 10.1002/jnr.1096

    One of the central tenets in neuroscience has been that the protein constituents of distal compartments of the neuron (e.g., the axon and nerve terminal) are synthesized in the nerve cell body and are subsequently transported to their ultimate sites of function. In contrast to this postulate, we have established previously that a heterogeneous population of mRNAs and biologically active polyribosomes exist in the giant axon and presynaptic nerve terminals of the photoreceptor neurons in squid. We report that these mRNA populations contain mRNAs for nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins to include: cytochrome oxidase subunit 17, propionyl-CoA carboxylase (EC, dihydrolipoamide dehydrogenase (EC, and coenzyme Q subunit 7. The mRNA for heat shock protein 70, a chaperone protein known to be involved in the import of proteins into mitochondria, has also been identified. Electrophoretic gel analysis of newly synthesized proteins in the synaptosomal fraction isolated from the squid optic lobe revealed that the large presynaptic terminals of the photoreceptor neuron contain a cytoplasmic protein synthetic system. Importantly, a significant amount of the cycloheximide resistant proteins locally synthesized in the terminal becomes associated with mitochondria. PCR analysis of RNA from synaptosomal polysomes establishes that COX17 and CoQ7 mRNAs are being actively translated. Taken together, these findings indicate that proteins required for the maintenance of mitochondrial function are synthesized locally in the presynaptic nerve terminal, and call attention to the intimacy of the relationship between the terminal and its energy generating system. J. Neurosci. Res. 64:447-453, 2001. Published 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

  • Trains of sleep sequences are indices of learning capacity in rats.

    Publication Date: 08/04/2001 on Behavioural brain research
    by Piscopo S, Mandile P, Montagnese P, Cotugno M, Giuditta A, Vescia S

    In previous work dealing with the identification of four sleep sequences (SS-->W, SS-->PS, SS-->TS-->W and SS-->TS-->PS) in the baseline session of adult male Wistar rats [Mandile P, Vescia S, Montagnese P, Romano F, Giuditta A. Characterization of transition sleep episodes in baseline EEG recordings of adults rats, Physiol Behav 1996;60:1435-1439], we have shown that those containing an intervening episode of transition sleep (TS) strongly correlate with the number of avoidances scored the following day [Vescia S, Mandile P, Montagnese P, Romano F, Cataldo G, Cotugno M, Giuditta A. Baseline transition sleep and associated sleep episodes are related to the learning ability of rats, Physiol Behav 1996;60:1513-152]. More recently, clusters of sleep sequences (trains) separated by waking intervals longer than 60 s have been identified in the baseline session of the same rats [Piscopo S, Mandile P, Montagnese P, Cotugno M, Giuditta A, Vescia S. Identification of trains of sleep sequences in adult rats, Behav Brain Res, this volume], and distinguished in homogeneous or mixed trains according to the presence of a single sleep sequence or more than one sequence. Mixed trains have been further separated into trains containing the SS-->TS-->W sequence (+TSW trains) and trains lacking it (-TSW trains). Analysis of the distribution of variables of baseline trains (and of their sleep sequences and components) among fast learning (FL), slow learning (SL), or non-learning (NL) rats, indicates that variables of +TSW trains prevail in FL rats, while variables of -TSW trains prevail in NL rats. In addition, variables of +TSW trains correlate with the number of avoidances of the training session, while variables of -TSW trains do not significantly correlate, or show inverse correlations. Interestingly, sleep sequences such as SS-->W or SS-->TS-->W show direct or inverse correlations with avoidances depending on whether they are included in +TSW trains or in -TSW trains. The data are interpreted to suggest that the outcome of brain operations performed during a sleep sequence may selectively condition the appearance of later sequences within a time interval shorter than a given threshold. An analogous mechanism may be responsible for the aggregation of sleep components in sleep sequences.

  • Identification of trains of sleep sequences in adult rats.

    Publication Date: 15/02/2001 on Behavioural brain research
    by Piscopo S, Mandile P, Montagnese P, Cotugno M, Giuditta A, Vescia S

    In previous studies based on high resolution EEG analyses of the 7 h baseline session of 18 adult male Wistar rats [6,14], we have identified four sleep sequences initiating with slow wave sleep (SS) and terminating with waking (W) or paradoxical sleep (PS). Two of these sequences contained an intervening episode of transition sleep (TS). Several variables of these sequences (SS-->W, SS-->TS-->W, SS-->TS-->PS, and SS-->PS) were selectively correlated with the capacity of rats to learn a two-way active avoidance task the following day, and were differently distributed in fast learning, slow learning and non learning rats [21]. The temporal organization of different sleep components in sequences suggested that a comparable temporal organization might concern the different sleep sequences, albeit on a longer time scale. We have now used waking periods longer than 60 s to separate clusters of baseline sleep sequences (trains) in the same rats. Trains containing the same sleep sequence (homogeneous trains) have been distinguished from trains containing different sleep sequences (mixed trains). In addition, mixed trains including the SS-->TS-->W sequence (+TSW trains) have been separated from mixed trains lacking that sequence (-TSW trains). Mixed trains of the +TSW type were longest and most numerous, while homogeneous trains were shortest and least abundant. Mixed trains of the -TSW type displayed intermediate values. Several variables of sleep sequences and sleep components differed within mixed trains and among mixed and homogeneous trains. The data indicate that baseline sleep sequences aggregate in relatively long strings in a non random fashion. The mechanism of this association is discussed.