Microtubule-dependent recruitment of Staufen-green fluorescent protein into large RNA-containing granules and subsequent dendritic transport in living hippocampal neurons

Mol Biol Cell. 1999 Sep;10(9):2945-53. doi: 10.1091/mbc.10.9.2945.


Dendritic mRNA transport and local translation at individual potentiated synapses may represent an elegant way to form synaptic memory. Recently, we characterized Staufen, a double-stranded RNA-binding protein, in rat hippocampal neurons and showed its presence in large RNA-containing granules, which colocalize with microtubules in dendrites. In this paper, we transiently transfect hippocampal neurons with human Staufen-green fluorescent protein (GFP) and find fluorescent granules in the somatodendritic domain of these cells. Human Stau-GFP granules show the same cellular distribution and size and also contain RNA, as already shown for the endogenous Stau particles. In time-lapse videomicroscopy, we show the bidirectional movement of these Staufen-GFP-labeled granules from the cell body into dendrites and vice versa. The average speed of these particles was 6.4 microm/min with a maximum velocity of 24. 3 microm/min. Moreover, we demonstrate that the observed assembly into granules and their subsequent dendritic movement is microtubule dependent. Taken together, we have characterized a novel, nonvesicular, microtubule-dependent transport pathway involving RNA-containing granules with Staufen as a core component. This is the first demonstration in living neurons of movement of an essential protein constituent of the mRNA transport machinery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Dendrites / drug effects
  • Dendrites / metabolism*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Hippocampus / embryology
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Microscopy, Video
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Movement / drug effects
  • Nocodazole / pharmacology
  • Normal Distribution
  • Organelles / drug effects
  • Organelles / genetics
  • Organelles / metabolism*
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Transfection


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • STAU1 protein, human
  • Stau1 protein, rat
  • staufen protein, mammalian
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • RNA
  • Nocodazole