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J Neurosci. 2003 Oct 15;23(28):9409-17.

An unbiased cDNA library prepared from isolated Aplysia sensory neuron processes is enriched for cytoskeletal and translational mRNAs.

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  • 1Brain Research Institute/Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095-1761, USA.


Local protein synthesis is required for long-lasting synapse-specific plasticity in cultured Aplysia sensorimotor synapses. To identify synaptically localized mRNAs, we prepared a cDNA library from isolated sensory neurites. By sequence analysis, we estimate that the library contains 263 distinct mRNAs, with 98 of these mRNAs constituting 70% of all clones. The localized transcripts are enriched for mRNAs encoding cytoskeletal elements and components of the translational machinery. In situ hybridization confirms that the mRNAs for at least eight of these transcripts are present in distal neurites. Immunocytochemistry reveals that serotonin regulates the translation of one of the localized mRNAs, that encoding alpha1-tubulin. Our identification of mRNAs encoding cytoskeletal elements suggests that local protein synthesis is required for the growth of new synaptic connections associated with persistent synaptic strengthening. Our finding of mRNAs encoding components of the translational machinery suggests that local protein synthesis serves to increase the translational capacity of synapses.

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