Two mRNA-binding proteins regulate the distribution of syntaxin mRNA in Aplysia sensory neurons

J Neurosci. 2006 May 10;26(19):5204-14. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4917-05.2006.


Targeting mRNAs to different functional domains within neurons is crucial to memory storage. In Aplysia sensory neurons, syntaxin mRNA accumulates at the axon hillock during long-term facilitation of sensory-motor neuron synapses produced by serotonin (5-HT). We find that the 3' untranslated region of Aplysia syntaxin mRNA has two targeting elements, the cytosolic polyadenylation element (CPE) and stem-loop double-stranded structures that appear to interact with mRNA-binding proteins CPEB and Staufen. Blocking the interaction between these targeting elements and their RNA-binding proteins abolished both accumulation at the axon hillock and long-term facilitation. CPEB, which we previously have shown to be upregulated after stimulation with 5-HT, is required for the relocalization of syntaxin mRNA to the axon hillock from the opposite pole in the cell body of the sensory neuron during long-term facilitation, whereas Staufen is required for maintaining the accumulation of the mRNA both at the axon hillock after the treatment with 5-HT and at the opposite pole in stable, unstimulated sensory neurons. Thus, the cooperative actions of the two mRNA-binding proteins serve to direct the distribution of an mRNA encoding a key synaptic protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aplysia / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins / genetics*
  • Qa-SNARE Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • mRNA Cleavage and Polyadenylation Factors / metabolism


  • Qa-SNARE Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • mRNA Cleavage and Polyadenylation Factors