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J Cell Biol. 2003 Aug 18;162(4):613-22. Epub 2003 Aug 11.

FOXO transcription factors directly activate bim gene expression and promote apoptosis in sympathetic neurons.

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Molecular Haematology and Cancer Biology Unit, Camelia Botnar Laboratories, Institute of Child Health, University College London, 30 Guilford St., London WC1N 1EH, UK.


Developing sympathetic neurons die by apoptosis when deprived of NGF. BIM, a BH3-only member of the BCL-2 family, is induced after NGF withdrawal in these cells and contributes to NGF withdrawal-induced death. Here, we have investigated the involvement of the Forkhead box, class O (FOXO) subfamily of Forkhead transcription factors in the regulation of BIM expression by NGF. We find that overexpression of FOXO transcription factors induces BIM expression and promotes death of sympathetic neurons in a BIM-dependent manner. In addition, we find that FKHRL1 (FOXO3a) directly activates the bim promoter via two conserved FOXO binding sites and that mutation of these sites abolishes bim promoter activation after NGF withdrawal. Finally, we show that FOXO activity contributes to the NGF deprivation-induced death of sympathetic neurons.

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