Michael Coleman

Michael Coleman is now Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Cambridge. Visit his page there for full details of his current research.

Research Summary

Michael studies basic mechanisms regulating axon survival. Age-related axon loss contributes to declining memory, senses, autonomic nervous system (bladder, gut, etc.) and motor function, leading to physical frailty. It also sets the biological context for age-related neurodegenerative disease.

Latest Publications

Structural basis for RING-Cys-Relay E3 ligase activity and its role in axon integrity.
Mabbitt PD, Loreto A, Déry MA, Fletcher AJ, Stanley M, Pao KC, Wood NT, Coleman MP, Virdee S

MYCBP2 is a ubiquitin (Ub) E3 ligase (E3) that is essential for neurodevelopment and regulates axon maintenance. MYCBP2 transfers Ub to nonlysine substrates via a newly discovered RING-Cys-Relay (RCR) mechanism, where Ub is relayed from an upstream cysteine to a downstream substrate esterification site. The molecular bases for E2-E3 Ub transfer and Ub relay are unknown. Whether these activities are linked to the neural phenotypes is also unclear. We describe the crystal structure of a covalently trapped E2~Ub:MYCBP2 transfer intermediate revealing key structural rearrangements upon E2-E3 Ub transfer and Ub relay. Our data suggest that transfer to the dynamic upstream cysteine, whilst mitigating lysine activity, requires a closed-like E2~Ub conjugate with tempered reactivity, and Ub relay is facilitated by a helix-coil transition. Furthermore, neurodevelopmental defects and delayed injury-induced degeneration in RCR-defective knock-in mice suggest its requirement, and that of substrate esterification activity, for normal neural development and programmed axon degeneration.

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Nature chemical biology, 1, 1, 03 Aug 2020

DOI: 10.1038/s41589-020-0598-6

PMID: 32747811

Axon Degeneration: Which Method to Choose?
Coleman MP

Axons are diverse. They have different lengths, different branching patterns, and different biological roles. Methods to study axon degeneration are also diverse. The result is a bewildering range of experimental systems in which to study mechanisms of axon degeneration, and it is difficult to extrapolate from one neuron type and one method to another. The purpose of this chapter is to help readers to do this and to choose the methods most appropriate for answering their particular research question.

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Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 2143, 1, 2020

PMID: 32524468

Loss of Protects Against the Deleterious Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury in .
Hill CS, Sreedharan J, Loreto A, Menon DK, Coleman MP

Traumatic brain injury is a major global cause of death and disability. Axonal injury is a major underlying mechanism of TBI and could represent a major therapeutic target. We provide evidence that targeting the axonal death pathway known as Wallerian degeneration improves outcome in a model of high impact trauma. This cell-autonomous neurodegenerative pathway is initiated following axon injury, and in Drosophila, involves activity of the E3 ubiquitin ligase . We demonstrate that a loss-of-function mutation in the gene rescues deleterious effects of a traumatic injury, including-improved functional outcomes, lifespan, survival of dopaminergic neurons, and retention of synaptic proteins. This data suggests that represents a potential therapeutic target in traumatic injury.

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Frontiers in neurology, 11, 1, 2020

DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2020.00401

PMID: 32477254