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Selective Localization of Arc mRNA in Dendrites Involves Activity- and Translation-Dependent mRNA Degradation


Arc is an immediate early gene that is unique among neuronal mRNAs because its transcripts are transported into dendrites and accumulate near activated synapses, presumably to be translated locally. These qualities pose Arc as playing an important, yet not fully understood, role in the activity-dependent modifications of synapses that are thought to underlie memory storage. Here we show in vivo in rats that newly synthesized Arc mRNA accumulates at activated synapses and that synaptic activity simultaneously triggers mRNA decay that eliminates Arc mRNA from inactive dendritic domains. Arc mRNA degradation occurs throughout the dendrite and requires both NMDA receptor activation and active translation. Synaptic activation did not lead to decreases in another dendritic mRNA (αCaMKII), indicating that there is not a general activation of mRNA degradation in dendrites. These data reveal a novel mechanism for controlling mRNA distribution within dendrites and highlight activity-dependent mRNA degradation as a regulatory process involved in synaptic plasticity.

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