Format

Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurosci. 2016 Mar 30;36(13):3811-20. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2396-15.2016.

Deficiency of the Survival of Motor Neuron Protein Impairs mRNA Localization and Local Translation in the Growth Cone of Motor Neurons.

Author information

1
Department of Cell Biology and.
2
Department of Cell Biology and Department of Neurology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322 wrossol@emory.edu gbassel@emory.edu.
3
Department of Cell Biology and wrossol@emory.edu gbassel@emory.edu.

Abstract

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a neurodegenerative disease primarily affecting spinal motor neurons. It is caused by reduced levels of the survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein, which plays an essential role in the biogenesis of spliceosomal small nuclear ribonucleoproteins in all tissues. The etiology of the specific defects in the motor circuitry in SMA is still unclear, but SMN has also been implicated in mediating the axonal localization of mRNA-protein complexes, which may contribute to the axonal degeneration observed in SMA. Here, we report that SMN deficiency severely disrupts local protein synthesis within neuronal growth cones. We also identify the cytoskeleton-associated growth-associated protein 43 (GAP43) mRNA as a new target of SMN and show that motor neurons from SMA mouse models have reduced levels ofGAP43mRNA and protein in axons and growth cones. Importantly, overexpression of two mRNA-binding proteins, HuD and IMP1, restoresGAP43mRNA and protein levels in growth cones and rescues axon outgrowth defects in SMA neurons. These findings demonstrate that SMN plays an important role in the localization and local translation of mRNAs with important axonal functions and suggest that disruption of this function may contribute to the axonal defects observed in SMA.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT:

The motor neuron disease spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is caused by reduced levels of the survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein, which plays a key role in assembling RNA/protein complexes that are essential for mRNA splicing. It remains unclear whether defects in this well characterized housekeeping function cause the specific degeneration of spinal motor neurons observed in SMA. Here, we describe an additional role of SMN in regulating the axonal localization and local translation of the mRNA encoding growth-associated protein 43 (GAP43). This study supports a model whereby SMN deficiency impedes transport and local translation of mRNAs important for neurite outgrowth and stabilization, thus contributing to axon degeneration, muscle denervation, and motor neuron cell death in SMA.

KEYWORDS:

GAP43; RNA trafficking; SMA; SMN; local translation; motor neuron

PMID:
27030765
PMCID:
PMC4812137
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2396-15.2016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center