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A natural antisense transcript against Rad18, specifically expressed in neurons and upregulated during β-amyloid-induced apoptosis


Dr S. Cavallaro, as above.


Apoptosis, the main form of programmed cell death, is associated to a complex and dynamic transcriptional and post-transcriptional programme. By microarray analysis, we have previously implicated 241 genes differentially expressed in rat cortical neurons exposed to β-amyloid (Aβ) protein, the major constituent of amyloid plaques in Alzheimer's disease. A large number of identified genes have no name or known function. In the present study, we have investigated one of these genes that encodes for a natural antisense transcript against Rad18 (NAT-Rad18). Real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) confirmed differential expression of this transcript in cortical neurons exposed to Aβ. In situ hybridization, qRT-PCR and immunohistochemistry were used to assess the regional and cellular distribution of NAT-Rad18 in adult rat brain. These experiments showed a widespread distribution of NAT-Rad18, with the highest levels in the cerebellum, brainstem and cortex, where it was specifically expressed by neurons. NAT-Rad18 was also strongly expressed in epithelial cells of choroid plexus and cerebral vessels. At the cellular level, expression of Rad18 was counterbalanced by that of its natural antisense transcript, as shown by both in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. These experiments suggest the existence of a NAT that exerts a post-transcriptional control over Rad18.