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J Neurochem. 2001 Feb;76(4):1188-98.

NF-kappaB is involved in the survival of cerebellar granule neurons: association of IkappaBbeta [correction of Ikappabeta] phosphorylation with cell survival.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Neurochem 2001 Apr;77(1):351.


The NF-kappaB transcription factor consists of dimeric complexes belonging to the Rel family, which include p50, p52, p65 (RelA), RelB and c-Rel. NF-kappaB activity is tightly controlled by IkappaB proteins which bind to NF-kappaB preventing its translocation to the nucleus. Activation of NF-kappaB is most often mediated by IkappaB degradation, which permits NF-kappaB to enter the nucleus. We investigated the role of NF-kappaB in the survival of cerebellar granule neurons. We found that survival of these neurons in high potassium medium is blocked by three separate inhibitors of NF-kappaB activity: SN-50, N-tosyl-L-phenylalanine chloromethyl ketone and pyrrolidinedithiocarbamate, indicating that NF-kappaB is required for neuronal survival. Gel-shift assays reveal three complexes that bind to the NF-kappaB binding site in high potassium medium. Switching these cultures to low potassium medium, a stimulus that leads to apoptotic death, causes a reduction in the level of the largest complex, which contains p65. Overexpression of p65 by transfection inhibits low potassium-induced apoptosis, whereas overexpression of IkappaBalpha promotes apoptosis even in high potassium medium. Surprisingly, however, neither the level of endogenous p65 nor that of IkappaBalpha and IkappaBbeta is altered by low potassium treatment. Similarly, no changes are seen in the nuclear or cytoplasmic levels of p50, p52, RelB and c-Rel. Phosphorylation of p65, which can lead to its activation, is unchanged. Phosphorylation of IkappaBbeta is, however, reduced by low potassium treatment. Besides being necessary for high potassium-mediated neuronal survival, NF-kappaB is also involved in the survival-promoting effects of IGF-1 and cAMP as judged by the ability of SN-50 to inhibit the actions of these survival factors and the ability of these factors to inhibit the low potassium-induced alterations in the DNA-binding activity of NF-kappaB. Taken together, our results show that NF-kappaB may represent a point of convergence in the signaling pathways activated by different survival factors and that uncommon mechanisms might be involved in NF-kappaB-mediated survival of cerebellar granule neurons.

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