Dendrites as separate compartment ? local protein synthesis
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The article summarizes the most meaningful studies which have provided evidence that protein synthesis in neurons can occur not only in cell perikarya but also locally in dendrites. The presence of the complete machinery required to synthesize cytoplasmic and integral membrane proteins in dendrites, identification of binding proteins known to mediate mRNA trafficking in dendrites and the ability to trigger 'on-site' translation make it possible for the synthesis of particular proteins to be regulated by synaptic signals. Until now over 100 different mRNAs coding the proteins involved in neurotransmission and modulation of synaptic activity have been identified in dendrites. Local protein synthesis is postulated to provide the basic mechanism of fast changes in the strength of neuronal connections and to be an important factor in the molecular background of synaptic plasticity, giving rise to enduring changes in synaptic function, which in turn play a role in local homeostatic responses. Local protein synthesis points to some autonomy of dendrites which makes them 'the brains of the neurons' (Jim Eberwine; from the interview with J. Eberwine ? Barinaga 2000).
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M. Skup, Department of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland