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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Oct 1, 1993; 90(19): 8802–8806.

Differential usage of multiple brain-derived neurotrophic factor promoters in the rat brain following neuronal activation.


The rat brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) gene consists of four 5' exons linked to separate promoters and one 3' exon encoding the prepro-BDNF protein. To gain insights into the regulation of BDNF mRNA expression, probes specific for the different 5' exons were used to study the expression of BDNF mRNA in the brain. Following a systemic injection of the glutamate analog kainic acid, exon I, II, and III mRNAs increased transiently in hippocampus and cerebral cortex. A modest increase was seen for exon IV, where a new transcription initiation site was induced by this treatment. Pretreatments with the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist MK801 or the alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor antagonist 2,3-dihydroxy-6-nitrosulfanoylbenzo(f)quinoxaline revealed two region-specific patterns of glutamate receptor-mediated regulation. The first pattern found in neocortex, piriform cortex, and amygdala involves regulation of BDNF exon I, II, and III mRNAs through NMDA and AMPA/kainate receptors. The second pattern found in the hippocampus involves regulation of BDNF exon I, II, and III mRNAs by high-affinity kainate or metabotropic receptors. Treatment with the gamma-aminobutyric acid subtype A (GABAA) receptor antagonist bicuculline increased exon I and III mRNAs in the denate gyrus, and the muscarinic receptor agonist pilocarpine increased exon I mRNA mainly in the neocortex. These data show that the four BDNF promoters allow multiple points of BDNF mRNA regulation and suggest that the activation of different subtypes of glutamate receptors differentially regulates the expression of BDNF exon-specific mRNAs in the brain.

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