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The RNA binding and transport proteins staufen and fragile X mental retardation protein are expressed by rat primary afferent neurons and localize to peripheral and central axons

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2006.05.047
  • Primary Afferent Neuron
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein
  • Staufen
  • Rna Binding Protein
  • Axonal Translation
  • Rna Cargo
  • Biology
  • Chemistry


Abstract Neuronal proteins have been traditionally viewed as being derived solely from the soma; however, accumulating evidence indicates that dendritic and axonal sites are capable of a more autonomous role in terms of new protein synthesis. Such extra-somal translation allows for more rapid, on-demand regulation of neuronal structure and function than would otherwise be possible. While mechanisms of dendritic RNA transport have been elucidated, it remains unclear how RNA is trafficked into the axon for this purpose. Primary afferent neurons of the dorsal root (DRG) and trigeminal (TG) ganglia have among the longest axons in the neuraxis and such axonal protein synthesis would be advantageous, given the greater time involved for protein trafficking to occur via axonal transport. Therefore, we hypothesized that these primary sensory neurons might express proteins involved in RNA transport. Rat DRG and TG neurons expressed staufen (stau) 1 and 2 (detected at the mRNA level) and stau2 and fragile x mental retardation protein (FMRP; detected at the protein level). Stau2 mRNA was also detected in human TG neurons. Stau2 and FMRP protein were localized to the sciatic nerve and dorsal roots by immunohistochemistry and to dorsal roots by Western blot. Stau2 and FMRP immunoreactivities colocalized with transient receptor potential channel type 1 immunoreactivity in sensory axons of the sciatic nerve and dorsal root, suggesting that these proteins are being transported into the peripheral and central terminals of nociceptive sensory axons. Based on these findings, we propose that stau2 and FMRP proteins are attractive candidates to subserve RNA transport in sensory neurons, linking somal transcriptional events to axonal translation.

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