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J Neurochem. 2000 Jul;75(1):91-100.

The transcription factor E2F1 modulates apoptosis of neurons.

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Institute for Biological Sciences, National Research Council Canada. Neuroscience Research Institute, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


The transcription factor E2F1 is known to mediate apoptosis in isolated quiescent and postmitotic cardiac myocytes, and its absence decreases the size of brain infarction following cerebral ischemia. To demonstrate directly that E2F1 modulates neuronal apoptosis, we used cultured cortical neurons to show a temporal association of the transcription and expression of E2F1 in neurons with increased neuronal apoptosis. Cortical neurons lacking E2F1 expression (derived from E2F1 -/- mice) were resistant to staurosporine-induced apoptosis as evidenced by the significantly lower caspase 3-like activity and a lesser number of cells with apoptotic morphology in comparison with cortical cultures derived from wild-type mice. Furthermore, overexpressing E2F1 alone using replication-deficient recombinant adenovirus was sufficient to cause neuronal cell death by apoptosis, as evidenced by the appearance of hallmarks of apoptosis, such as the threefold increase in caspase 3-like activity and increased laddered DNA fragmentation, in situ endlabeled DNA fragmentation, and numbers of neuronal cells with punctate nuclei. Taken together, we conclude that E2F1 plays a key role in modulating neuronal apoptosis.

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