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J Biol Chem. 2009 Jan 9;284(2):1057-63. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M805196200. Epub 2008 Nov 10.

Functional characterization of basic helix-loop-helix-PAS type transcription factor NXF in vivo: putative involvement in an "on demand" neuroprotection system.

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  • 1Environmental Health Science Laboratory, Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd., Konohana-ku, Osaka 554-8558, Japan.


NXF, a member of the basic helix-loop-helix-PAS transcription factor family, is thought to be involved in functional regulation of neurons, because significant expression is found in the mature brain. To elucidate functions of NXF in vivo, here we generated mice lacking NXF using homologous recombination with embryonic stem cells. NXF(-/-) mice were morphologically indistinguishable (with no growth retardation) from their littermates (wild type) at birth. However, they started to die at a rate of 1 death/20-30 animals per week under specific pathogen-free grade breeding conditions when over 3 months old. Histological analyses revealed age-dependent neurodegeneration in brain, and only 20-30% of the NXF(-/-) mice survived for 16 months. To clarify the role of NXF in protection against neurodegeneration in normal cells, we analyzed gene expression under several conditions in vitro and in vivo. The NXF gene was up-regulated by several neurodegenerative cell-stress inducers such as thapsigargin (endoplasmic reticulum stress), SIN-1 (oxidative stress), and sorbitol (osmotic stress) in cultured cells. Furthermore, elevated NXF gene expression was apparent with in vivo stroke models featuring kainate-induced hippocampal injury and transient global ischemia. When NXF(-/-) mice were evaluated in the glutamate excitotoxicity model, they proved more susceptible to hippocampal injury at 15 weeks after birth. The findings in this study suggest that the NXF gene could be induced in response to several neurodegenerative stimuli/excitations for the cell protection, and thus provide an "on demand" cell-protection system in nervous tissue.

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