A cellular mechanism for targeting newly synthesized mRNAs to synaptic sites on dendrites

Oswald Steward, Paul F. Worley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


Long-lasting forms of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity involve molecular modifications that require gene expression. Here, we describe a cellular mechanism that mediates the targeting newly synthesized gene transcripts to individual synapses where they are locally translated. The features of this mechanism have been revealed through studies of the intracellular transport and synaptic targeting of the mRNA for a recently identified immediate early gene called activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein Arc. Arc is strongly induced by patterns of synaptic activity that also induce long-term potentiation, and Arc mRNA is then rapidly delivered into dendrites after episodes of neuronal activation. The newly synthesized Arc mRNA localizes selectively at synapses that recently have been activated, and the encoded protein is assembled into the synaptic junctional complex. The dynamics of trafficking of Arc mRNA reveal key features of the mechanism through which synaptic activity can both induce gene expression and target particular mRNA transcripts to the active synapses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7062-7068
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jun 19 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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