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Fig. 1. Differential display analysis of dendritic processes from a single hippocampal neuron in culture. (A) Isolated hippocampal cells free of overlapping processes from neighboring cells were identified in low-density cultures (5). Individual dendrites were harvested by transecting at the branch point and aspirated as described (3). (B) Comparisons of differential display products between dendrites with a single 5' primer, OPA-5 (Operon Technologies, Alameda, CA), in combination with anchor primers A (T11AC) or C (T11GC) show the presence of common (closed arrowheads) and unique (open arrowheads) PCR products. (C) When a single 5' primer (OPA-13) is used in combination with all nine anchor primers a large population of mRNAs are present within neuronal processes.

hippocampal neurons. Consequently, ˜5% of the mRNAs complexity expressed in a neuron can be targeted to the dendritic domain.

The mechanism by which mRNAs are targeted to dendrites is thought to involve the binding of RNA-binding proteins to cis-acting elements in the transported mRNAs. There are more than 500 RNA binding proteins estimated to be encoded by the cellular genome. The cis-acting elements are likely composed of a primary nucleic acid sequence and a secondary RNA structure such that a specific RNA-binding protein recognition binding site is generated. The specificity of these cis-acting elements and the fact that only a limited number of RNAs are targeted to dendrites suggest that different RNAs may have different rates of transport into the dendrite.

The regulated transport of mRNA into neuronal dendrites recently has become a topic of examination by a number of groups. One approach to determining the rates of mRNA transport into dendrites is to treat neuronal cells with various



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