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J Neurosci. 2001 Jun 1;21(11):3797-805.

NMDA receptor stimulation and brain-derived neurotrophic factor upregulate homer 1a mRNA via the mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade in cultured cerebellar granule cells.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Graduate School of Biostudies, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.


In three alternative splice variants of Homer 1 transcripts, Homer 1a mRNA has been shown to be upregulated selectively and rapidly by neural stimulation and represents a member of the immediate early gene (IEG) family. We investigated the mechanism underlying Homer 1a mRNA induction in cerebellar granule cell culture. All Homer 1 variants were expressed in cultured granule cells as analyzed by RNA blotting and immunochemical characterization. Glutamate stimulation of granule cells selectively upregulated Homer 1a mRNA via NMDA receptor-mediated influx of extracellular calcium. The induction of Homer 1a mRNA was much slower (peaked at 4 hr) and sustained longer than that of the typical IEG c-fos mRNA. Actinomycin D and cycloheximide experiments have revealed that, despite the presence of the mRNA-destabilizing AU-rich motif, transcriptional activation is a main determinant for selective Homer 1a mRNA induction. Inhibitor analysis as well as immunochemical characterization has indicated that the MEK (MAPK/ERK kinase)-ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) cascade plays an indispensable role in glutamate-stimulated induction of Homer 1a mRNA. Consistent with this observation, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is known to activate the ERK cascade, similarly upregulated Homer 1a mRNA. These results demonstrate that MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) is a key mediator that links distinct extracellular stimuli to the transcriptional activation of Homer 1a mRNA.

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