Neurotransmission is an energetically expensive process that underlies cognition. During intense electrical activity or dietary restrictions, the glucose level in the brain plummets, forcing neurons to utilize alternative fuels. However, the molecular mechanisms of neuronal metabolic plasticity remain poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that glucose-deprived neurons activate the CREB and PGC1α transcriptional program, which induces expression of the mitochondrial deacetylase Sirtuin 3 (Sirt3) both in vitro and in vivo. We show that Sirt3 localizes to axonal mitochondria and stimulates mitochondrial oxidative capacity in hippocampal nerve terminals. Sirt3 plays an essential role in sustaining synaptic transmission in the absence of glucose by providing metabolic support for the retrieval of synaptic vesicles after release. These results demonstrate that the transcriptional induction of Sirt3 facilitates the metabolic plasticity of synaptic transmission.

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