The CPEB3 Protein Is a Functional Prion that Interacts with the Actin Cytoskeleton

Cell Rep. 2015 Jun 23;11(11):1772-85. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2015.04.060. Epub 2015 Jun 11.


The mouse cytoplasmic polyadenylation element-binding protein 3 (CPEB3) is a translational regulator implicated in long-term memory maintenance. Invertebrate orthologs of CPEB3 in Aplysia and Drosophila are functional prions that are physiologically active in the aggregated state. To determine if this principle applies to the mammalian CPEB3, we expressed it in yeast and found that it forms heritable aggregates that are the hallmark of known prions. In addition, we confirm in the mouse the importance of CPEB3's prion formation for CPEB3 function. Interestingly, deletion analysis of the CPEB3 prion domain uncovered a tripartite organization: two aggregation-promoting domains surround a regulatory module that affects interaction with the actin cytoskeleton. In all, our data provide direct evidence that CPEB3 is a functional prion in the mammalian brain and underline the potential importance of an actin/CPEB3 feedback loop for the synaptic plasticity underlying the persistence of long-term memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Gene Deletion
  • Mice
  • Prions / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism


  • Cpeb3 protein, mouse
  • Prions
  • RNA-Binding Proteins