Leucine-rich glioma inactivated 1 (Lgi1) is a secreted synaptic protein that organizes a transsynaptic protein complex throughout the brain. Mutations in the Lgi1 gene have been found in patients with autosomal dominant lateral temporal lobe epilepsy (ADLTE). Although a large number of studies have focused on the expression and function of Lgi1 in the postnatal brain, information regarding its functions and distribution during development remains sparse. Here we report that Lgi1 mRNA is preferentially expressed in the caudal ganglionic eminence (CGE) of the early embryonic telencephalon, and LGI1 protein is unexpectedly localized in the nucleus of dissociated CGE neurons. Using bioinformatics analysis, we found that LGI1 contains a putative nuclear localization signal (NLS) in its leucine-rich repeat C-terminal domain. Furthermore, we show that the transient expression of Lgi1 in CGE neurons resulted in nuclear translocation of the LGI1 protein, and a mutation in the NLS led to the retention of LGI1 in the cytoplasm. We also confirmed that the NLS sequence of LGI1 had the ability to mediate the nuclear localization by using the NLS-containing fusion protein. Interestingly, when Lgi1 was expressed in neurons obtained from the medial ganglionic eminence or cerebral cortex, almost no nuclear localization of LGI1 was observed. These results raise the possibility of a novel role of Lgi1 within embryonic neurons through nuclear translocation and may provide insight into its potential effects on the development of the central nervous system and ADLTE pathogenesis.
© 2012 The Authors. European Journal of Neuroscience © 2012 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.