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      Dramatic Co-Activation of WWOX/WOX1 with CREB and NF-κB in Delayed Loss of Small Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurons upon Sciatic Nerve Transection in Rats


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          Tumor suppressor WOX1 (also named WWOX or FOR) is known to participate in neuronal apoptosis in vivo. Here, we investigated the functional role of WOX1 and transcription factors in the delayed loss of axotomized neurons in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) in rats.

          Methodology/Principal Findings

          Sciatic nerve transection in rats rapidly induced JNK1 activation and upregulation of mRNA and protein expression of WOX1 in the injured DRG neurons in 30 min. Accumulation of p-WOX1, p-JNK1, p-CREB, p-c-Jun, NF-κB and ATF3 in the nuclei of injured neurons took place within hours or the first week of injury. At the second month, dramatic nuclear accumulation of WOX1 with CREB (>65% neurons) and NF-κB (40–65%) occurred essentially in small DRG neurons, followed by apoptosis at later months. WOX1 physically interacted with CREB most strongly in the nuclei as determined by FRET analysis. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed the complex formation of p-WOX1 with p-CREB and p-c-Jun in vivo. WOX1 blocked the prosurvival CREB-, CRE-, and AP-1-mediated promoter activation in vitro . In contrast, WOX1 enhanced promoter activation governed by c-Jun, Elk-1 and NF-κB. WOX1 directly activated NF-κB-regulated promoter via its WW domains. Smad4 and p53 were not involved in the delayed loss of small DRG neurons.


          Rapid activation of JNK1 and WOX1 during the acute phase of injury is critical in determining neuronal survival or death, as both proteins functionally antagonize. In the chronic phase, concurrent activation of WOX1, CREB, and NF-κB occurs in small neurons just prior to apoptosis. Likely in vivo interactions are: 1) WOX1 inhibits the neuroprotective CREB, which leads to eventual neuronal death, and 2) WOX1 enhances NF-κB promoter activation (which turns to be proapoptotic). Evidently, WOX1 is the potential target for drug intervention in mitigating symptoms associated with neuronal injury.

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          Most cited references50

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          Function and regulation of CREB family transcription factors in the nervous system.

          CREB and its close relatives are now widely accepted as prototypical stimulus-inducible transcription factors. In many cell types, these factors function as effector molecules that bring about cellular changes in response to discrete sets of instructions. In neurons, a wide range of extracellular stimuli are capable of activating CREB family members, and CREB-dependent gene expression has been implicated in complex and diverse processes ranging from development to plasticity to disease. In this review, we focus on the current level of understanding of where, when, and how CREB family members function in the nervous system.
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            Akt/protein kinase B up-regulates Bcl-2 expression through cAMP-response element-binding protein.

            In our previous study we showed that insulin-like growth factor-I induces a cAMP-response element (CRE) site-containing Bcl-2 promoter through a novel signaling pathway involving mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 6/p38beta mitogen-activated protein kinase/MAP kinase-activated protein kinase-3/cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) (Pugazhenthi, S., Miller, E., Sable, C., Young, P., Heidenreich, K. A., Boxer, L. M., and Reusch, J. E.-B. (1999) J. Biol. Chem. 274, 27529-27535). In the present investigation, we define a second pathway contributing to CREB-dependent up-regulation of Bcl-2 expression as a novel anti-apoptotic function of Akt signaling. To examine the role of Akt on Bcl-2 expression, a series of transient transfections using a luciferase reporter gene driven by the promoter region of Bcl-2 containing a CRE were carried out. Pharmacological inhibition of phosphatidylinositol (PI) 3-kinase, the upstream kinase of Akt, with LY294002 led to a 45% decrease in Bcl-2 promoter activity. The reporter activity was enhanced 2.3-fold by overexpression of active p110 subunit of PI 3-kinase and inhibited 44% by the dominant negative p85 subunit of PI 3-kinase. Cotransfection with 3-phosphoinositide-dependent kinase (PDK1), which is required for the full activation of Akt, resulted in enhanced luciferase activity. Insulin-like growth factor-I-mediated induction of Bcl-2 promoter activity was decreased significantly (p < 0.01) by the dominant negative forms of p85 subunit of PI 3-kinase, PDK1, and Akt. These data indicate that regulation of Bcl-2 expression by IGF-I involves a signaling cascade mediated by PI 3-kinase/PDK1/Akt/CREB. Furthermore, we measured the Bcl-2 mRNA in PC12 cells overexpressing Akt by real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction using the TaqMan(TM) fluorogenic probe system. We observed a 2.1-fold increase in Bcl-2 mRNA levels in the Akt cell line compared with control PC12 cells, supporting the observation that enhanced CREB activity by Akt signaling leads to increased Bcl-2 promoter activity and cell survival.
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              The AP-1 transcription factor c-Jun is required for efficient axonal regeneration.

              Nerve injury triggers numerous changes in the injured neurons and surrounding nonneuronal cells that ultimately result in successful target reinnervation or cell death. c-Jun is a component of the heterodimeric AP-1 transcription factor, and c-Jun is highly expressed in response to neuronal trauma. Here we have investigated the role of c-jun during axonal regeneration using mice lacking c-jun in the central nervous system. After transection of the facial nerve, the absence of c-Jun caused severe defects in several aspects of the axonal response, including perineuronal sprouting, lymphocyte recruitment, and microglial activation. c-Jun-deficient motorneurons were atrophic, resistant to axotomy-induced cell death, and showed reduced target muscle reinnervation. Expression of CD44, galanin, and alpha7beta1 integrin, molecules known to be involved in regeneration, was greatly impaired, suggesting a mechanism for c-Jun-mediated axonal growth. Taken together, our results identify c-Jun as an important regulator of axonal regeneration in the injured central nervous system.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                12 November 2009
                : 4
                : 11
                [1 ]Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy, National Cheng Kung University Medical College, Tainan, Taiwan
                [2 ]Department of Dermatology, Chi-Mei Medical Center, Tainan, Taiwan
                [3 ]Department of Microbiology & Immunology, National Cheng Kung University Medical College, Tainan, Taiwan
                [4 ]Center for Gene Regulation and Signal Transduction Research, National Cheng Kung University Medical College, Tainan, Taiwan
                [5 ]Institute of Basic Medical Science, National Cheng Kung University Medical College, Tainan, Taiwan
                [6 ]Institute of Molecular Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Medical College, Tainan, Taiwan
                [7 ]Putz General Hospital, Department of Health, Executive Yuan, Chiayi, Taiwan
                [8 ]Department of Medicine, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Aurora, Colorado, United States of America
                [9 ]Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York, United States of America
                New York State Institute for Basic Research, United States of America
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: CIS SP NC STC. Performed the experiments: MYL FJL CPL CLC SRL MHL JYC SP NC. Analyzed the data: MYL FJL LJH CPL SRL MHL JYC CIS SP NC STC. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: FJL SRL MHL DS MST CIS NC STC. Wrote the paper: NC STC.


                These authors also contributed equally to this work.

                Li et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 13
                Research Article
                Neuroscience/Neurobiology of Disease and Regeneration
                Neuroscience/Neuronal Signaling Mechanisms



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