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J Biol Chem. 2002 Nov 1;277(44):41525-32. Epub 2002 Aug 20.

Overexpression of the protein phosphatase 2A regulatory subunit Bgamma promotes neuronal differentiation by activating the MAP kinase (MAPK) cascade.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Iowa, College of Medicine, Iowa City 52242, USA.


Protein serine/threonine phosphatase 2A (PP2A) is a multifunctional regulator of cellular signaling. Variable regulatory subunits associate with a core dimer of scaffolding and catalytic subunits and are postulated to dictate substrate specificity and subcellular location of the heterotrimeric PP2A holoenzyme. The role of brain-specific regulatory subunits in neuronal differentiation and signaling was investigated in the PC6-3 subline of PC12 cells. Endogenous Bbeta, Bgamma, and B'beta protein expression was induced during nerve growth factor (NGF)-mediated neuronal differentiation. Transient expression of Bgamma, but not other PP2A regulatory subunits, facilitated neurite outgrowth in the absence and presence of NGF. Tetracycline-inducible expression of Bgamma caused growth arrest and neurofilament expression, further evidence that PP2A/Bgamma can promote differentiation. In PC6-3 cells, but not non-neuronal cell lines, Bgamma specifically promoted long lasting activation of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase cascade, a key mediator of neuronal differentiation. Pharmacological and dominant-negative inhibition and kinase assays indicate that Bgamma promotes neuritogenesis by stimulating the MAP kinase cascade downstream of the TrkA NGF receptor but upstream or at the level of the B-Raf kinase. Mutational analyses demonstrate that the divergent N terminus is critical for Bgamma activity. These studies implicate PP2A/Bgamma as a positive regulator of MAP kinase signaling in neurons.

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