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J Neurochem. 2009 Mar;108(5):1251-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2008.05864.x. Epub 2009 Jan 28.

The CREB/CRE transcriptional pathway: protection against oxidative stress-mediated neuronal cell death.

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Department of Neuroscience, Ohio State University, Columbus, 43210, USA.


Formation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species is a precipitating event in an array of neuropathological conditions. In response to excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels, transcriptionally dependent mechanisms drive the up-regulation of ROS scavenging proteins which, in turn, limit the extent of brain damage. Here, we employed a transgenic approach in which cAMP-response element binding protein (CREB)-mediated transcription is repressed (via A-CREB) to examine the contribution of the CREB/cAMP response element pathway to neuroprotection and its potential role in limiting ROS toxicity. Using the pilocarpine-evoked repetitive seizure model, we detected a marked enhancement of cell death in A-CREB transgenic mice. Paralleling this, there was a dramatic increase in tyrosine nitration (a marker of reactive species formation) in A-CREB transgenic mice. In addition, inducible expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator-1alpha was diminished in A-CREB transgenic mice, as was activity of complex I of the mitochondrial electron transport chain. Finally, the neuroprotective effect of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) against ROS-mediated cell death was abrogated by disruption of CREB-mediated transcription. Together, these data both extend our understanding of CREB functionality and provide in vivo validation for a model in which CREB functions as a pivotal upstream integrator of neuroprotective signaling against ROS-mediated cell death.

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