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Neuron. 2002 Nov 14;36(4):597-610.

An essential role for a MEK-C/EBP pathway during growth factor-regulated cortical neurogenesis.

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Centre for Neuronal Survival and Brain Tumor Research Centre, Montreal Neurological Institute, Montreal, Canada.


Mammalian neurogenesis is determined by an interplay between intrinsic genetic mechanisms and extrinsic cues such as growth factors. Here we have defined a signaling cascade, a MEK-C/EBP pathway, that is essential for cortical progenitor cells to become postmitotic neurons. Inhibition of MEK or of the C/EBP family of transcription factors inhibits neurogenesis while expression of a C/EBPbeta mutant that is a phosphorylation-mimic at a MEK-Rsk site enhances neurogenesis. C/EBP mediates this positive effect by direct transcriptional activation of neuron-specific genes such as Talpha1 alpha-tubulin. Conversely, inhibition of C/EBP-dependent transcription enhances CNTF-mediated generation of astrocytes from the same progenitor cells. Thus, activation of a MEK-C/EBP pathway enhances neurogenesis and inhibits gliogenesis, thereby providing a mechanism whereby growth factors can selectively bias progenitors to become neurons during development.

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