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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Oct;1793(10):1604-13. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2009.07.001. Epub 2009 Jul 14.

Transcriptional coupling of synaptic transmission and energy metabolism: role of nuclear respiratory factor 1 in co-regulating neuronal nitric oxide synthase and cytochrome c oxidase genes in neurons.

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Department of Cell Biology, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA.


Neuronal activity is highly dependent on energy metabolism; yet, the two processes have traditionally been regarded as independently regulated at the transcriptional level. Recently, we found that the same transcription factor, nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF-1) co-regulates an important energy-generating enzyme, cytochrome c oxidase, as well as critical subunits of glutamatergic receptors. The present study tests our hypothesis that the co-regulation extends to the next level of glutamatergic synapses, namely, neuronal nitric oxide synthase, which generates nitric oxide as a downstream signaling molecule. Using in silico analysis, electrophoretic mobility shift assay, chromatin immunoprecipitation, promoter mutations, and NRF-1 silencing, we documented that NRF-1 functionally bound to Nos1, but not Nos2 (inducible) and Nos3 (endothelial) gene promoters. Both COX and Nos1 transcripts were up-regulated by depolarizing KCl treatment and down-regulated by TTX-mediated impulse blockade in neurons. However, NRF-1 silencing blocked the up-regulation of both Nos1 and COX induced by KCl depolarization, and over-expression of NRF-1 rescued both Nos1 and COX transcripts down-regulated by TTX. These findings are consistent with our hypothesis that synaptic neuronal transmission and energy metabolism are tightly coupled at the molecular level.

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