In neurons certain mRNA transcripts are transported to synapses through mechanisms that are not fully understood. Here we report that the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein CBF-A (CArG Box binding Factor A) facilitates dendritic transport and localization of activity-regulated cytoskeleton-associated protein (Arc), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII alpha) mRNAs. We discovered that, in the adult mouse brain, CBF-A has a broad distribution. In the nucleus, CBF-A was found at active transcription sites and interchromosomal spaces and close to nuclear pores. In the cytoplasm, CBF-A localized to dendrites as well as pre- and postsynaptic sites. CBF-A was found in synaptosomal fractions, associated with Arc, BDNF, and CaMKII alpha mRNAs. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays demonstrated a direct interaction mediated via their hnRNP A2 response element (A2RE)/RNA trafficking sequence (RTS) elements located in the 3' untranslated regions. In situ hybridization and microscopy on live hippocampal neurons showed that CBF-A is in dynamic granules containing Arc, BDNF, and CaMKII alpha mRNAs. N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and alpha-amino-3-hydroxyl-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionate (AMPA) postsynaptic receptor stimulation led to CBF-A accumulation in dendrites; increased Arc, BDNF, and CaMKII alpha mRNA levels; and increased amounts of transcripts coprecipitating with CBF-A. Finally, CBF-A gene knockdown led to decreased mRNA levels. We propose that CBF-A cotranscriptionally binds RTSs in Arc, BDNF, and CaMKII alpha mRNAs and follows the transcripts from genes to dendrites, promoting activity-dependent nuclear sorting of transport-competent mRNAs.
2011. Vol. 22, no 11, 1864-1877 p.