Background: Neuropeptide precursors are traditionally viewed as proteins giving rise to small neuropeptide molecules. Prodynorphin (PDYN) is the precursor protein to dynorphins, endogenous ligands for the kappa-opioid receptor. Alternative mRNA splicing of neuropeptide genes may regulate cell- and tissue-specific neuropeptide expression and produce novel protein isoforms. We here searched for novel PDYN mRNA and their protein product in the human brain.
Methods: Novel PDYN transcripts were identified using nested PCR amplification of oligo(dT) selected full-length capped mRNA. Gene expression was analyzed by qRT-PCR, PDYN protein by western blotting and confocal imaging, dynorphin peptides by radioimmunoassay. Neuronal nuclei were isolated using fluorescence activated nuclei sorting (FANS) from postmortem human striatal tissue. lmmunofluorescence staining and con focal microscopy was performed for human caudate nucleus.
Results: Two novel human PDYN mRNA splicing variants were identified. Expression of one of them was confined to the striatum where its levels constituted up to 30% of total PDYN mRNA. This transcript may be translated into ASP-PDYN protein lacking 13 N-terminal amino acids, a fragment of signal peptide (SP). Delta SP-PDYN was not processed to mature dynorphins and surprisingly, was targeted to the cell nuclei in a model cellular system. The endogenous PDYN protein was identified in the cell nuclei in human striatum by western blotting of isolated neuronal nuclei, and by confocal imaging.
Conclusions and general significance: High levels of alternatively spliced Delta SP-PDYN mRNA and nuclear localization of PDYN protein suggests a nuclear function for this isoform of the opioid peptide precursor in human striatum. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.