Activity-dependent regulation of the sumoylation machinery in rat hippocampal neurons

Biol Cell. 2013 Jan;105(1):30-45. doi: 10.1111/boc.201200016. Epub 2012 Nov 26.


Background information: Sumoylation is a key post-translational modification by which the Small Ubiquitin-like MOdifier (SUMO) polypeptide is covalently attached to specific lysine residues of substrate proteins through a specific enzymatic pathway. Although sumoylation participates in the regulation of nuclear homeostasis, the sumoylation machinery is also expressed outside of the nucleus where little is still known regarding its non-nuclear functions, particularly in the Central Nervous System (CNS). We recently reported that the sumoylation process is developmentally regulated in the rat CNS.

Results: Here, we demonstrate that there is an activity-dependent redistribution of endogenous sumoylation enzymes in hippocampal neurons. By performing biochemical and immunocytochemical experiments on primary cultures of rat hippocampal neurons, we show that sumoylation and desumoylation enzymes are differentially redistributed in and out of synapses upon neuronal stimulation. This enzymatic redistribution in response to a neuronal depolarisation results in the transient decrease of sumoylated protein substrates at synapses.

Conclusions: Taken together, our data identify an activity-dependent regulation of the sumoylation machinery in neurons that directly impacts on synaptic sumoylation levels. This process may provide a mechanism for neurons to adapt their physiological responses to changes occurring during neuronal activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Small Ubiquitin-Related Modifier Proteins / genetics
  • Small Ubiquitin-Related Modifier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sumoylation*
  • Synapses / metabolism


  • Small Ubiquitin-Related Modifier Proteins