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J Neurosci. 2005 Apr 27;25(17):4279-87.

Nuclear Ca2+ and the cAMP response element-binding protein family mediate a late phase of activity-dependent neuroprotection.

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Centre for Neuroscience Research, University of Edinburgh, Summerhall, Edinburgh EH9 1QH, United Kingdom.


The mechanism by which physiological synaptic NMDA receptor activity promotes neuronal survival is not well understood. Here, we show that that an episode of synaptic activity can promote neuroprotection for a long time after that activity has ceased. This long-lasting or "late phase" of neuroprotection is dependent on nuclear calcium signaling and cAMP response element (CRE)-mediated gene expression. In contrast, neuroprotection evoked acutely by ongoing synaptic activity relies solely on the activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway. This "acute phase" does not require nuclear calcium signaling and is independent of activation of the CRE-binding protein (CREB) family of transcription factors. Thus, activity-dependent neuroprotection comprises two mechanistically distinct phases that differ in their spatial requirements for calcium and in their reliance on the CREB family.

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