Subcellular localization of tau mRNA in differentiating neuronal cell culture: implications for neuronal polarity

Neuron. 1993 Apr;10(4):627-38. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(93)90165-n.


A primary neuronal cell culture derived from whole brains of fetal rats was used to analyze the subcellular localization of tau mRNA, employing nonisotopic detection by in situ hybridization. The culture exhibited a developmental differentiation pattern previously described for neuronal cells in vivo; i.e., a transition from immature to mature tau isoforms as well as segregation of tau into the axons. Our results demonstrate that unlike tubulin mRNA, which is confined to cell bodies, or MAP2 mRNA, which extends into dendrites, tau mRNA was observed to enter the proximal portion of the axon. This sorting of tau mRNA might explain how the tau protein could be selectively delivered to the axon and could have important implications for the development of neuronal polarity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Polarity*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism*
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism*
  • Tubulin / genetics
  • tau Proteins / genetics*


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tubulin
  • tau Proteins