The septins are GTPase enzymes with multiple roles in cytokinesis, cell polarity or exocytosis. The proteins from the mammalian septin genes are called Sept1–10. Most are expressed in multiple tissues, but the mRNA for Sept5 (CDCrel-1) and Sept3 (G-septin) appear to be primarily expressed in brain. Sept3 is phosphorylated by cGMP-dependent protein kinase I (PKG-I) and the cGMP/PKG pathway is involved in presynaptic plasticity. Therefore to determine whether Sept3 specifically associates with neurones and nerve terminals we investigated its distribution in rat brain and neuronal cultures. Sept3 protein was detected only in brain by immunoblot, but not in 12 other tissues examined. Levels were high in all adult brain regions, and reduced in those enriched in white matter. Expression was developmentally regulated, being absent in the early embryo, low in late embryonic rat brain and increasing after birth. Like dynamin I, Sept3 was specifically enriched in synaptosomes compared with whole brain, and was only found in a peripheral membrane extract and not in the soluble or membrane extracts. Sept3 was particularly abundant in mossy fibre nerve terminals in the hippocampus. In primary cultured hippocampal neurones Sept3 immunoreactivity was punctate in neurites and predominantly localized to presynaptic terminals, strongly colocalizing with synaptophysin and dynamin I. The specific nerve terminal localization was confirmed by immunogold electron microscopy. Together this shows that Sept3 is a neurone-specific protein highly enriched in nerve terminals which supports a secretory role in synaptic vesicle recycling.
Journal of Neurochemistry Vol. 91, Issue 3, p. 579-590