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Neurosci Res. 2011 Jun;70(2):155-63. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2011.02.009. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

The ERBB4 intracellular domain (4ICD) regulates NRG1-induced gene expression in hippocampal neurons.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Tulane University, 6400 Freret Street, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA.


The NRG1 growth factor and ERBB4 receptor have been identified as leading schizophrenia risk genes. Although NRG1 and ERBB4 have been shown to modulate neuronal functions involved in schizophrenia, including both GABAergic and glutamatergic synapses, the exact molecular mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here we investigated ERBB4 intracellular domain, 4ICD, transactivator function in rat hippocampal cultures by inhibiting γ-secretase mediated ERBB4 regulated intramembrane proteolysis (RIP). NRG1 stimulation resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of hippocampal cells displaying nuclear 4ICD which was abolished in cultures pretreated with the γ-secretase inhibitor compound E (CE). To identify NRG1-4ICD transactivated genes we compared global gene expression profiles of hippocampal cultures stimulated with NRG1 in the absence or presence of CE. In concordance with the contribution of NRG1-ERBB4 signaling to dendritic spine maturation and schizophrenia, global gene expression analysis followed by Ingenuity Pathway Analysis of the dataset identified NRG1-4ICD regulated genes significantly represented in semaphorin signaling and actin cytoskeletal plasticity and multiple genes with confirmed roles in dendritic spine morphogenesis. Using the power of global gene expression analysis our data provides a proof-of-concept supporting a role for non-canonical NRG1-4ICD signaling in the regulation of gene expression contributing to normal and schizophrenic neuronal function.

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