The SARM1 Toll/Interleukin-1 Receptor Domain Possesses Intrinsic NAD+ Cleavage Activity that Promotes Pathological Axonal Degeneration

Kow Essuman, Daniel W. Summers, Yo Sasaki, Xianrong Mao, Aaron DiAntonio, Jeffrey Milbrandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations


Axonal degeneration is an early and prominent feature of many neurological disorders. SARM1 is the central executioner of the axonal degeneration pathway that culminates in depletion of axonal NAD+, yet the identity of the underlying NAD+-depleting enzyme(s) is unknown. Here, in a series of experiments using purified proteins from mammalian cells, bacteria, and a cell-free protein translation system, we show that the SARM1-TIR domain itself has intrinsic NADase activity—cleaving NAD+ into ADP-ribose (ADPR), cyclic ADPR, and nicotinamide, with nicotinamide serving as a feedback inhibitor of the enzyme. Using traumatic and vincristine-induced injury models in neurons, we demonstrate that the NADase activity of full-length SARM1 is required in axons to promote axonal NAD+ depletion and axonal degeneration after injury. Hence, the SARM1 enzyme represents a novel therapeutic target for axonopathies. Moreover, the widely utilized TIR domain is a protein motif that can possess enzymatic activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1334-1343.e5
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 22 2017


  • NAD
  • NADase
  • SARM1
  • TIR
  • Toll/interleukin-1 receptor domain
  • axonal degeneration
  • enzyme
  • innate immunity

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