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Neurosci Lett. 2006 Jul 31;403(1-2):103-8. Epub 2006 May 15.

Kainate exposure suppresses activation of GluR2 subunit promoter in primary cultured cerebral cortical neurons through induction of RE1-silencing transcription factor.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Peking University Health Science Center, Xue Yuan Road 38, Beijing 100083, PR China.


The AMPA receptor subunit GluR2 is downregulated in neurons following a wide range of neurological insults. Here we report that suppression of GluR2 gene promoter activity is associated with kainate (KA)-induced downregulation of GluR2 subunit levels in primary cultured cortical neurons. RT-PCR and Northern blotting showed a significant decrease in GluR2 mRNA in cultured neurons after KA exposure. Transfection of cultured neurons with an expression vector pGL3-GluR2(-298/+283), where the reporter gene firefly luciferase was driven by the GluR2 promoter, revealed that KA exposure suppressed the transcriptional activation of the GluR2 promoter. Furthermore, the expression of the RE1-silencing transcription factor (REST) was increased in KA-exposed cortical neurons; enhanced binding of REST to RE1-like silencer element in the proximal promoter of the GluR2 subunit gene was evidenced by electrophoresis mobility shift assay. Chromatin immunoprecipitation showed that suppressed activity of the GluR2 promoter in cultured neurons after KA exposure was related to deacetylation of histone H4. These results indicate that REST as a crucial factor binds to RE1-like silencer element in the GluR2 promoter, suppressing transcription of the GluR2 subunit gene during KA exposure. Our data suggest that transcriptional suppression of the GluR2 subunit gene may contribute at least in part to downregulation of GluR2 subunit protein in neurons during KA exposure. Because our experiments showed a reduction of glutamate release in KA-exposed cortical neurons, REST may play a latent role in delayed neuronal death or in seizure-induced tolerance.

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