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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