Messenger RNAs localized to distal projections of human stem cell derived neurons

Sci Rep. 2017 Apr 4;7(1):611. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-00676-w.


The identification of mRNAs in distal projections of model organisms has led to the discovery of multiple proteins that are locally synthesized for functional roles such as axon guidance, injury signaling and regeneration. The extent to which local protein synthesis is conserved in human neurons is unknown. Here we used compartmentalized microfluidic chambers to characterize the transcriptome of distal projections of human embryonic stem cells differentiated using a protocol which enriched for glutamatergic neurons (hESC-neurons). Using gene expression analysis, we identified mRNAs proportionally enriched in these projections, representing a functionally unique local transcriptome as compared to the human neuronal transcriptome inclusive of somata. Further, we found that the most abundant mRNAs within these hESC-neuron projections were functionally similar to the axonal transcriptome of rat cortical neurons. We confirmed the presence of two well characterized axonal mRNAs in model organisms, β-actin and GAP43, within hESC-neuron projections using multiplexed single molecule RNA-FISH. Additionally, we report the novel finding that oxytocin mRNA localized to these human projections and confirmed its localization using RNA-FISH. This new evaluation of mRNA within human projections provides an important resource for studying local mRNA translation and has the potential to reveal both conserved and unique translation dependent mechanisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Gene Ontology
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Microfluidic Analytical Techniques
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • RNA Transport
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Transcriptome


  • RNA, Messenger