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Mol Cell Neurosci. 1999 Jul;14(1):28-40.

p75-mediated NF-kappaB activation enhances the survival response of developing sensory neurons to nerve growth factor.

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School of Biomedical Sciences, University of St. Andrews, Biomedical Science Building, St. Andrews, KY16 9AJ, Scotland.


We have investigated whether the transcription factor NF-kappaB plays a role in regulating neuronal survival by manipulating NF-kappaB activation in the nerve growth factor (NGF)-dependent sensory neurons of the embryonic mouse trigeminal ganglion. Overexpression of either the p65 or the p50 NF-kappaB subunits resulted in NF-kappaB activation and promoted in vitro survival as effectively as NGF. Expression of a superrepressor IkappaB-alpha protein prevented NF-kappaB activation in p65/p50-overexpressing neurons and caused the neurons to die as rapidly as NGF-deprived neurons. NGF treatment also activated NF-kappaB, and preventing this activation with superrepressor IkappaB-alpha reduced the NGF survival response. Antibodies that block binding of NGF to the p75 receptor prevented NGF-induced NF-kappaB activation and reduced the NGF survival response to the same extent as superrepressor IkappaB-alpha. Trigeminal neurons cultured from p65(-/-) embryos showed a reduced survival response to NGF compared with neurons from wild-type embryos and there was increased apoptosis of neurons in the trigeminal ganglia of p65(-/-) embryos in vivo. However, as with p75-deficient sensory neurons, p65-deficient sensory neurons showed a normal survival response to BDNF. These results reveal a role for NF-kappaB in regulating neuronal survival during embryonic development and suggest that in addition to the well-established Trk receptor tyrosine kinase signaling cascade, NGF enhances neuronal survival by signaling via a p75-mediated pathway.

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