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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2007 May 15;221(1):57-67. Epub 2007 Mar 12.

ERK-dependent and -independent pathways trigger human neural progenitor cell migration.

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  • 1Institut für Umweltmedizinische Forschung gGmbH at the Heinrich Heine-University, Group of Toxicology, Auf'm Hennekamp 50, 40225 Düsseldorf, Germany. moors@uni-duesseldorf.de

Abstract

Besides differentiation and apoptosis, cell migration is a basic process in brain development in which neural cells migrate several centimeters within the developing brain before reaching their proper positions and forming the right connections. For identifying signaling events that control neural migration and are therefore potential targets of chemicals to disturb normal brain development, we developed a human neurosphere-based migration assay based on normal human neural progenitor (NHNP) cells, in which the distance is measured that cells wander over time. Applying this assay, we investigated the role of the extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) in the regulation of NHNP cell migration. Exposure to model substances like ethanol or phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) revealed a correlation between ERK1/2 activation and cell migration. The participation of phospho-(P-) ERK1/2 was confirmed by exposure of the cells to the MEK inhibitor PD98059, which directly prohibits ERK1/2 phosphorylation and inhibited cell migration. We identified protein kinase C (PKC) and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) as upstream signaling kinases governing ERK1/2 activation, thereby controlling NHNP cell migration. Additionally, treatments with src kinase inhibitors led to a diminished cell migration without affecting ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Based on these results, we postulate that migration of NHNP cells is controlled via ERK1/2-dependent and -independent pathways.

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