Getting Up the Nerve

Science's STKE  21 Dec 1999:
Vol. 1999, Issue 13, pp. tw5
DOI: 10.1126/stke.1999.13.tw5

During development, sympathetic neurons require nerve growth factor (NGF) to survive. Riccio et al. describe a mechanism by which signals initiated by NGF promote cell survival. They find that the transcription factor CREB (cyclic AMP response element-binding protein) is required for the effect of NGF and sufficient by itself to promote cell survival. They also identify a target gene that appears to participate in the survival response. Expression of the gene encoding Bcl-2, a protein that acts to prevent apoptosis, was increased in cells exposed to NGF. Furthermore, overexpression of Bcl-2 prevented cell death caused by inhibition of CREB function. Thus, CREB appears to have an essential role in promoting neuronal survival, at least in part through controlled expression of survival factors.

Riccio, A., Ahn, S., Davenport, C.M., Blendy, J.A., and Ginty, D.D. (1999) Mediation by a CREB family transcription factor of NGF-dependent survival of sympathetic neurons. Science 286: 2358-2361. [Abstract] [Full Text]