Functional and selective RNA interference in developing axons and growth cones

The Journal of Neuroscience : the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Ulrich HengstSamie R Jaffrey


Developing axons and growth cones contain "local" mRNAs that are translated in response to various extracellular signaling molecules and have roles in several processes during axonal development, including axonal pathfinding, orientation of axons in chemotactic gradients, and in the regulation of neurotransmitter release. The molecular mechanisms that regulate mRNA translation within axons and growth cones are unknown. Here we show that proteins involved in RNA interference (RNAi), including argonaute-3 and argonaute-4, Dicer, and the fragile X mental retardation protein, are found in developing axons and growth cones. These proteins assemble into functional RNA-induced silencing complexes as transfection of small interfering RNAs selectively into distal axons results in distal axon-specific mRNA knock-down, without reducing transcript levels in proximal axons or associated diffusion of small interfering RNA into proximal axons or cell bodies. RhoA mRNA is localized to axons and growth cones, and intra-axonal translation of RhoA is required for growth cone collapse elicited by Semaphorin 3A (Sema3A), an axonal guidance cue. Selective knock-down of axonal RhoA mRNA abolishes Sema3A-dependent growth cone collapse. Our results dem...Continue Reading


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