Translation of an integral membrane protein in distal dendrites of hippocampal neurons


Dr A. M. J. VanDongen, as above.


Maintenance of synaptic plasticity requires protein translation. Because changes in synaptic strength are regulated at the level of individual synapses, a mechanism is required for newly translated proteins to specifically and persistently modify only a subset of synapses. Evidence suggests this may be accomplished through local translation of proteins at or near synapses in response to plasticity-inducing patterns of activity. A number of proteins important for synaptic function are integral membrane proteins, which require a specialized group of organelles, proteins and enzymatic activities for proper synthesis. Dendrites appear to contain machinery necessary for the proper production of these proteins, and mRNAs for integral membrane proteins have been found localized to dendrites. Experiments are described that investigate the local translation of membrane proteins in the dendrites of cultured rat hippocampal neurons, using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching. Neurons were transfected with cDNAs encoding a fluorescently labeled transmembrane protein, TGN-38. Under conditions where the transport of this reporter construct was inhibited, the appearance of newly synthesized protein was observed via fluorescent microscopy. The dendritic translation of this protein required activation of glutamate receptors. The results demonstrate a functional capacity for activity-dependent synthesis of integral membrane proteins for distal dendrites in hippocampal neurons.