The brain-specific double-stranded RNA-binding protein Staufen2 is required for dendritic spine morphogenesis

J Cell Biol. 2006 Jan 16;172(2):221-31. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200509035.


Mammalian Staufen2 (Stau2) is a member of the double-stranded RNA-binding protein family. Its expression is largely restricted to the brain. It is thought to play a role in the delivery of RNA to dendrites of polarized neurons. To investigate the function of Stau2 in mature neurons, we interfered with Stau2 expression by RNA interference (RNAi). Mature neurons lacking Stau2 displayed a significant reduction in the number of dendritic spines and an increase in filopodia-like structures. The number of PSD95-positive synapses and miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents were markedly reduced in Stau2 down-regulated neurons. Akin effects were caused by overexpression of dominant-negative Stau2. The observed phenotype could be rescued by overexpression of two RNAi cleavage-resistant Stau2 isoforms. In situ hybridization revealed reduced expression levels of beta-actin mRNA and fewer dendritic beta-actin mRNPs in Stau2 down-regulated neurons. Thus, our data suggest an important role for Stau2 in the formation and maintenance of dendritic spines of hippocampal neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / genetics
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Dendrites* / metabolism
  • Dendrites* / ultrastructure
  • Disks Large Homolog 4 Protein
  • Down-Regulation
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • HeLa Cells
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism*
  • RNA Interference
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Synapses / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Disks Large Homolog 4 Protein
  • Dlg4 protein, rat
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Stau2 protein, rat