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J Biol Chem. 1999 Sep 3;274(36):25842-8.

Differential effects of cAMP in neurons and astrocytes. Role of B-raf.

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Department of Neurology and Center for the Study of Nervous System Injury, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation provides cell type-specific signals important for cellular differentiation, proliferation, and survival. Cyclic AMP (cAMP) has divergent effects on MAPK activity depending on whether signaling is through Ras/Raf-1 or Rap1/B-raf. We found that central nervous system-derived neurons, but not astrocytes, express B-raf. In neurons, cAMP activated MAPK in a Rap1/B-raf-dependent manner, while in astrocytes, cAMP decreased MAPK activity. Inhibition of MAPK in neurons decreased neuronal growth factor-mediated survival, and activation of MAPK by cAMP analogues rescued neurons from death. Furthermore, constitutive expression of B-raf in astrocytoma cells increased MAPK activation, as seen in neurons, and enhanced proliferation. These data provide the first experimental evidence that B-raf is the molecular switch which dominantly permits differential cAMP-dependent regulation of MAPK in neurons versus astrocytes, with important implications for both survival and proliferation.

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