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J Neurochem. 2002 Dec;83(6):1272-84.

Analysis of the PC12 cell transcriptome after differentiation with pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP).

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Section on Molecular Neuroscience, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Regulation, National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) promotes neurite outgrowth and inhibits proliferation of rat pheochromocytoma (PC12) cells. Characterizing the PACAP-differentiated PC12 cell transcriptome should provide genetic insight into how these processes occur in these cells, and in neuronal precursors in vivo. For this purpose, RNA samples were collected from PC12 cells before or after a 6-h treatment with PACAP, from which a labeled cDNA was hybridized to a high-density cDNA array containing 15 365 genes. The genomic response to PACAP involves at least 73 genes. Among the genes differentially expressed in the presence of PACAP, 71% were up regulated, and 29% down regulated, 2-fold or more. Sixty-six percent of the messages affected by PACAP code for functionally categorized proteins, most not previously known to be regulated during PC12 cell differentiation. PACAP has been shown to induce PC12 cell neurite outgrowth through the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) pathway independently of protein kinase A (PKA). Therefore treatments were conducted in the absence or presence of the PKA inhibitor H89, or the MEK inhibitor U0126 in order to identify subsets of genes involved in specific aspects of PC12 cell differentiation. Co-treatment of PC12 cells with PACAP plus H89 revealed a cluster of five genes specifically regulated through the PKA pathway and co-treatment of the cells with PACAP and U0126 revealed a cluster of 13 messages specifically activated through the MEK pathway. Many of the known genes regulated by PACAP have been associated with neuritogenesis (i.e. villin 2 or annexin A2) or cell growth (i.e. growth arrest specific 1 or cyclin B2). Thus, some of the expressed sequence tags (ESTs) that exhibit the same regulation pattern (i.e. AU016391 or AW552690) may also be involved in the neuritogenic and anti-mitogenic effects of PACAP in PC12 cells. Among the 73 PACAP regulated genes, 10 are disqualified on pharmacological grounds as actors in PACAP-mediated neurite outgrowth or growth arrest, leaving 63 new PACAP-regulated genes implicated in neuronal differentiation. Thirteen of these are candidates for mediating ERK-dependent neurite outgrowth, and 47 are possibly involved in the ERK-independent growth arrest induced by PACAP.

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