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J Cell Sci. 2006 Mar 1;119(Pt 5):898-909. Epub 2006 Feb 14.

Characterization of a neural-specific splicing form of the human neuregulin 3 gene involved in oligodendrocyte survival.

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  • 1Instituto de Neurociencias UMH-CSIC, Alicante, Spain.


Neuregulins are a family of genes involved in key aspects of neural biology. Neuregulins 1, 2 and 3 (NRG1, NRG2 and NRG3) are expressed in the mammalian nervous system. It is well established that NRG1, with fifteen different splicing forms, is central for brain development and function. However, the biological relevance of NRG2 and NRG3 remains elusive. Here, we report the identification of a new isoform of NRG3 that is specifically expressed in the human embryonic central nervous system. Sequence alignment with the human genome suggests that this transcript is produced by alternative promoter usage. The encoded polypeptide is a type-I-glycosylated plasma membrane protein, which is shed into the extracellular space where it activates erbB4, a pivotal receptor for brain development. In addition, we show that the protein has a signal sequence that is cleaved after membrane insertion. Proteasome inhibition with Lactacystin enhances the expression of the protein, whereas impairment of ubiquitylation in the conditional mutant cell line ts20 protects the protein from degradation. These observations imply that the ubiquitin/proteasome pathway regulates biogenesis of the protein. We also show that recombinant neuregulin 3 acts as an oligodendrocyte survival factor by activating the phosphoinositide 3-kinase signalling pathway. Therefore, we report a new post-translationally regulated isoform of neuregulin 3 expressed in the developing human central nervous system with a role in oligodendrocyte survival.

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