microRNA-9 regulates axon extension and branching by targeting Map1b in mouse cortical neurons

Nat Neurosci. 2012 May;15(5):697-699. doi: 10.1038/nn.3082. Epub 2012 Apr 8.


The capacity of neurons to develop a long axon and multiple dendrites defines neuron connectivity in the CNS. The highly conserved microRNA-9 (miR-9) is expressed in both neuronal precursors and some post-mitotic neurons, and we detected miR-9 expression in the axons of primary cortical neurons. We found that miR-9 controlled axonal extension and branching by regulating the levels of Map1b, an important protein for microtubule stability. Following microfluidic separation of the axon and the soma, we found that miR-9 repressed Map1b translation and was a functional target for the BDNF-dependent control of axon extension and branching. We propose that miR-9 links regulatory signaling processes with dynamic translation mechanisms, controlling Map1b protein levels and axon development.