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J Neurosci. 2003 Oct 1;23(26):8949-54.

The neurofibromatosis 1 gene product neurofibromin regulates pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide-mediated signaling in astrocytes.

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Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Individuals with the neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1)-inherited tumor predisposition syndrome develop low-grade astrocytomas. The NF1 tumor suppressor gene product neurofibromin exhibits GTPase-activating activity (GAP) toward RAS, such that loss of neurofibromin expression leads to high levels of activated RAS and increased cell proliferation. Previous work has demonstrated that Nf1 inactivation in astrocytes leads to increased cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo, accompanied by increased RAS pathway activation. Studies on Nf1 mutant Drosophila have suggested that neurofibromin might also regulate cAMP signaling. Because intracellular cAMP levels have profound effects on astrocyte growth control, we sought to determine the contribution of neurofibromin to astrocyte cAMP regulation. In this report, we demonstrate that Nf1 inactivation in astrocytes results in reduced cAMP generation in response to PACAP and attenuated calcium influx and Rap1 activation. Based on the differential effects of forskolin and dibutyryl-cAMP on Nf1-/- astrocytes, neurofibromin likely functions at the level of adenylyl cyclase activation. Last, the reintroduction of a fragment of neurofibromin containing residues sufficient for restoring RAS-GAP function in Nf1-/- cells resulted in only partial restoration of neurofibromin-mediated cAMP regulation. These results demonstrate that neurofibromin positively influences cAMP generation and activation of cAMP growth regulatory targets in astrocytes and expands the role of the NF1 gene in astrocyte growth regulation.

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