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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2008 Jan;65(1):128-40.

Defining a neuron: neuronal ELAV proteins.

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  • 1Department of Experimental and Applied Pharmacology, University of Pavia, Via Taramelli 14, 27100, Pavia, Italy.


Neuronal cells strongly depend on the control exerted by RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) on gene expression for the establishment and maintenance of their phenotype. Neuronal ELAV (nELAV) proteins are RBPs able to influence virtually every aspect of the postsynthesis fate of bound mRNAs, from polyadenylation, alternative splicing and nuclear export to cytoplasmic localization, stability and translation. They enhance gene expression through the last two, best documented activities, increasing mRNA half-life and promoting protein synthesis by a still-unknown molecular mechanism. Developmentally, nELAV proteins have been shown to act as inducers of the transition between neural stem/progenitor cells and differentiation-committed cells, also assisting these neuroblasts in the completion of their maturation program. In brain physiology, they are also the first RBPs demonstrated to have a pivotal role in memory, where they probably control mRNA availability for translation in subcellular domains, thereby providing a biochemical means for selective increase in synaptic strength.

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