Posttranslational modification of proteins might play an important role in brain cellular dynamics via the rapid turnover or functional change of critical proteins controlling neuronal differentiation or synaptic transmission. Small ubiquitin-like modifier protein (SUMO) is a family of ubiquitin-like small proteins that are covalently attached to target proteins to modify their function posttranslationally. Many cellular processes, such as transcription and protein trafficking, are regulated by SUMOylation, but its functional significance in the brain remains unclear. Although developmental regulation of SUMOylation levels in rat brain was recently demonstrated, no comparative immunohistochemical analysis of the cellular distribution profiles of SUMOylation components, including SUMO1, SUMO2/3, and Ubc9, has been undertaken so far. The present study used immunohistochemical and immunoblot analysis with the different developmental stages of mice and demonstrated the developmentally regulated distribution of SUMO1, SUMO2/3, and Ubc9 in the brain. During embryonic development, SUMOylation by SUMO1 and SUMO2/3 occurred in the nucleoplasm of nestin-positive neural stem cells. Although the total amount of SUMO-modified proteins decreased during postnatal brain development, intense and persistent accumulation of SUMO2/3 was detected throughout life in neural progenitor populations in neurogenic regions, including the subventricular zone and the hippocampal subgranular zone. In contrast, many neurons in the adult brain accumulated SUMO1 rather than SUMO2/3. Heavy immunoreactivity of SUMO1 was found in large projection neurons in the brainstem, whereas SUMO2/3 was almost absent from these areas. This heterogeneous distribution implies that both proteins play a specific and unique role in the brain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas