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Volume 7 (2007), Pages 178-190
Mini-Review Article

P-Body Components, microRNA Regulation, and Synaptic Plasticity

1Smurfit Institute of Genetics and TCIN, Lloyd Building, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin-2, Ireland
2Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
3ARL Division of Neurobiology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
4Department of Biological Sciences, University of Denver, Denver, CO 80208, USA

Received 22 June 2007; Revised 12 July 2007; Accepted 13 July 2007

Academic Editors: D. Shurtleff and S. Ferre

Copyright © 2007 Jens Hillebrand et al.


What is the protein apparatus required for microRNA (miRNA) function and translational repression in neurons? This article reviews our recent work on Me31B, a conserved P-body protein present on Staufen-containing neuronal and maternal ribonucleoprotein (RNP) particles, which is required for dendrite morphogenesis and miRNA function in vivo. In addition, it provides new data to show that Me31B is present on and regulates formation of P-bodies in the Drosophila wing disc, where it has a general role in the regulation of miRNA function. While illuminating the function of this important RNA regulatory molecule, it also brings into focus a hypothesis of potentially broad significance. Namely, that P-body proteins may play important roles in regulation of dendrite-localized mRNAs and, thereby, in synaptic plasticity. A wide range of protein localization and early functional data support this hypothesis. We also discuss current knowledge of RNP particles that mediate translational repression and the implications of these findings for understanding translational control in neurons.