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Neuroscience. 2010 Dec 15;171(3):655-65. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.09.039. Epub 2010 Sep 25.

Climbing fibers induce microRNA transcription in cerebellar Purkinje cells.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Oregon Health and Science University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239, USA.


The coordinated expression of as many as 100 proteins may be required to sustain simple changes in synaptic transmission. While each protein may be regulated separately, the translation of multiple proteins could be regulated by microRNAs. MicroRNAs are short non-coding RNAs that translationally repress cognate sequences in targeted mRNAs. If these targeted sequences are shared across several genes, then a single microRNA could, effectively regulate the activity of several genes in parallel. Here we investigate whether microRNA transcription is influenced by naturally evoked synaptic activity at the climbing fiber-Purkinje cell synapse in the mouse cerebellar flocculus. Mice received 24 h of binocular horizontal optokinetic stimulation (HOKS) evoking sustained increases in climbing fiber activity to Purkinje cells in one flocculus and decreases to Purkinje cells in the other. Increased climbing fiber activity increased transcription of 12 microRNAs in the flocculus. The transcription of one of these microRNAs, miR335, was proportional to duration of stimulation, increasing 18-fold after 24 h of HOKS. We localized miR335 transcripts to Purkinje cells using hybridization histochemistry. Transcripts of miR335 decayed to baseline within 3 h after HOKS was stopped. We identified mRNA targets for miR335 using multiple screens: sequence analysis, microinjection of miR335 inhibitors and identification of mRNAs whose transcription decreased during HOKS. Two genes, calbindin and 14-3-3-θ passed these screens. Our data suggest that microRNA transcription could provide an important synaptic or homeostatic mechanism for the regulation of proteins that contribute to Purkinje cell plasticity.

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