Publication – Heckel, Schuman

Activity-dependent spatially localized miRNA maturation in neuronal dendrites

Sambandan S, Akbalik G, Kochen L, Rinne J, Kahlstatt J, Glock C, Tushev G, Alvarez-Castelao B, Heckel A, Schuman EM
Science. 2017 Feb 10. Abstract  or full publication here.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression by binding to target messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and preventing their translation. In general, the number of potential mRNA targets in a cell is much greater than the miRNA copy number, complicating high-fidelity miRNA-target interactions. We developed an inducible fluorescent probe to explore whether the maturation of a miRNA could be regulated in space and time in neurons. A precursor miRNA (pre-miRNA) probe exhibited an activity-dependent increase in fluorescence, suggesting the stimulation of miRNA maturation. Single-synapse stimulation resulted in a local maturation of miRNA that was associated with a spatially restricted reduction in the protein synthesis of a target mRNA. Thus, the spatially and temporally regulated maturation of pre-miRNAs can be used to increase the precision and robustness of miRNA-mediated translational repression.