Active Transport by Cytoplasmic Dynein Maintains the Localization of MAP2 in Developing Neurons

bioRxiv. 2023 Apr 30;2023.04.26.538370. doi: 10.1101/2023.04.26.538370. Preprint


MAP2 has been widely used as a marker of neuronal dendrites because of its extensive restriction in the somatodendritic region of neurons. Despite that, how the precise localization of such a soluble protein is established and maintained against thermal forces and diffusion has been elusive and long remained a mystery in neuroscience. In this study, we aimed to uncover the mechanism behind how MAP2 is retained in the somatodendritic region. Using GFP-tagged MAP2 expressed in cultured hippocampal neurons, we discovered a crucial protein region responsible for the localization of MAP2, the serine/proline-rich (S/P) region. Our pulse-chase live-cell imaging revealed the slow but steady migration of MAP2 toward distal dendrites, which was not observed in a MAP2 mutant lacking the S/P region, indicating that S/P-dependent transport is vital for the proper localization of MAP2. Furthermore, our experiments using an inhibitor of cytoplasmic Dynein, ciliobrevin D, as well as Dynein knockdown, showed that cytoplasmic Dynein is involved in the transport of MAP2 in dendrites. We also found that Dynein complex binds to MAP2 through the S/P region in heterologous cells. Using mathematical modeling based on experimental data, we confirmed that an intermittent active transport mechanism is essential. Thus, we propose that the cytoplasmic Dynein recruits and transports free MAP2 toward distal dendrites, thereby maintaining the precise dendritic localization of MAP2 in neurons. Our findings shed light on the previously unknown mechanism behind MAP2 localization and provide a new direction for soluble protein trafficking research in the field of cell biology of neurons.

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