Calcium influx via the NMDA receptor induces immediate early gene transcription by a MAP kinase/ERK-dependent mechanism

Zhengui Xia, Henryk Dudek, Cindy K. Miranti, Michael E. Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

678 Scopus citations

Abstract

The regulation of gene expression by neurotransmitters is likely to play a key role in neuroplasticity both during development and in the adult animal. Therefore, it is important to determine the mechanisms of neuronal gene regulation to understand fully the mechanisms of learning, memory, and other long-term adaptive changes in neurons. The neurotransmitter glutamate stimulates rapid and transient induction of many genes, including the c-fos proto-oncogene. The c-fos promoter contains several critical regulatory elements, including the serum response element (SRE), that mediate glutamate- induced transcription in neurons; however, the mechanism by which the SRE functions in neurons has not been defined. In this study, we sought to identify transcription factors that mediate glutamate induction of transcription through the SRE in cortical neurons and to elucidate the mechanism(s) of transcriptional activation by these factors. To facilitate this analysis, we developed an improved calcium phosphate coprecipitation procedure to transiently introduce DNA into primary neurons, both efficiently and consistently. Using this protocol, we demonstrate that the transcription factors serum response factor (SRF) and Elk-1 can mediate glutamate induction of transcription through the SRE in cortical neurons. There are at least two distinct pathways by which glutamate signals through the SRE: an SRF- dependent pathway that can operate in the absence of Elk and an Elk-dependent pathway. Activation of the Elk-dependent pathway of transcription seems to require phosphorylation of Elk-1 by extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs), providing evidence for a physiological function of ERKs in glutamate signaling in neurons. Taken together, these findings suggest that SRF, Elk, and ERKs may have important roles in neuroplasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5425-5436
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume16
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 1996
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Elk
  • ERK
  • glutamate
  • MAP kinase
  • neurons
  • SRF
  • transcription, c-fos
  • transfection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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