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DNA Cell Biol. 1997 Mar;16(3):323-33.

PACAP type I receptor activation promotes cerebellar neuron survival through the cAMP/PKA signaling pathway.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Neurophysiologie et de Neurobiologie des Systèmes Endocrines, URA CNRS 1446, Strasbourg, France.


The molecular nature, transduction pathways, and neurotrophic functions of pituitary adenylate cyclase activating peptide (PACAP) receptors were studied in primary culture of rat cerebellar granule cells. We show that cerebellar neurons express several PACAP type I receptor (PVR I) isoforms, including the short (PVR Is) and the Hop (PVR I-Hop) splice variants, the latter being restricted to neurons and not found in cerebellar glial cell cultures. In vitro, cerebellar granule cells die rapidly in the absence of a high concentration of K+ (25 mM), as demonstrated by TUNEL histochemistry, which shows that K+ deprivation induces massive neuronal apoptosis within 12 hr. This effect was reversed by PACAP 27 and 38. Both forms of PACAP prevent DNA fragmentation and allow long-term neuronal survival in the absence of high K+ (as shown by MAP2 immunostaining) and stimulate a reporter gene driven by the full-length c-fos promoter. These effects of PACAP are fully abolished upon transient transfection of cells with a dominant inhibitory mutant of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). Taken together, these results show that in cerebellar granule neurons, PACAP type I receptors regulate gene expression and promote neuronal survival through the cAMP/PKA pathway.

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