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J Biol Chem. 2009 Sep 25;284(39):26466-81. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.027680. Epub 2009 Jul 24.

Repression of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IV signaling accelerates retinoic acid-induced differentiation of human neuroblastoma cells.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York 14214, USA.


Neuroblastoma cells having stem cell-like qualities are widely employed models for the study of neural stem/progenitor cell proliferation and differentiation. We find that human BE(2)C neuroblastoma cells possess a signaling cascade initiated by Ca(2+) influx via voltage-dependent calcium channels and the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor and culminating in nuclear calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IV (CaMKIV)-mediated phosphorylation and activation of the transcription factors Ca(2+)/cyclic AMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) and ATF1 (activating transcription factor-1). This pathway functions to maintain BE(2)C cells in an undifferentiated, proliferative state. Parallel to this Ca(2+)-dependent pathway is a hormone-responsive program by which retinoic acid (RA) initiates the differentiation of BE(2)C cells toward a neuronal lineage. This is evidenced by RA-dependent induction of the cell cycle inhibitor p21/Cip1 (Cdk-interacting protein 1) and cell cycle arrest, induction of the neuroblastic marker doublecortin and of the neuron-specific intermediate filament protein, peripherin, and by RA-stimulated extension of neuritic processes. During neuronal differentiation there is a complex antagonistic interplay between these two major signaling pathways. RA down-regulates expression of CaMKIV and one of its upstream activators, CaMKK1 (calmodulin-dependent protein kinase kinase 1). This is accompanied by RA-induced suppression of activating phosphorylation of CREB with a time course paralleling that of CaMKIV down-regulation. RA-induced repression of the Ca(2+)/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase kinase/CaMKIV/CREB pathway appears to be involved in regulating the timing of neuronal differentiation, as shown by the effect of RNA interference of CaMKIV to markedly accelerate RA-dependent up-regulation of p21/Cip1 and doublecortin expression and RA-promoted neurite outgrowth. RA-induced repression of the CaMKIV signaling pathway may represent an early event in retinoid-dependent neuronal differentiation.

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