, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 113-121

Neuronal homeostasis through translational control

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Abstract

Translational repression is a key component of the mechanism that establishes segment polarity during early embryonic development in the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster. Two proteins, Pumilio (Pum) and Nanos, block the translation of hunchback messenger RNA in only the posterior segments, thereby promoting an abdominal fate. More recent studies focusing on postembryonic neuronal function have shown that Pum is also integral to numerous mechanisms that allow neurons to adapt to the changing requirements placed on them in a dynamic nervous system. These mechanisms include those contributing to dendritic structure, synaptic growth, neuronal excitability, and formation of long-term memory. This article describes these new studies and highlights the role of translational repression in regulation of neuronal processes that compensate for change.