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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 25;8(6):e67470. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067470. Print 2013.

NGF upregulates the plasminogen activation inhibitor-1 in neurons via the calcineurin/NFAT pathway and the Down syndrome-related proteins DYRK1A and RCAN1 attenuate this effect.

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Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical Faculty of the RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.



Plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) is a key regulator of the plasminogen activation system. Although several lines of evidence support a significant role of PAI-1 in the brain, the regulation of its expression in neurons is poorly understood. In the present study we tested the hypothesis that NGF induces the upregulation of PAI-1 via the calcineurin/nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) pathway and analysed whether the overexpression of the Down syndrome-related proteins DYRK1A and RCAN1 modulated the effect of NGF on PAI-1 expression.


NGF upregulated PAI-1 mRNA levels in primary mouse hippocampal neurons cultured for 3 days in vitro and in the rat pheochromocytoma cell line PC12. Reporter gene assays revealed that NGF activated the calcineurin/NFAT pathway in PC12 cells. Induction of PAI-1 by NGF was sensitive to the calcineurin inhibitor FK506 and the specific inhibition of NFAT activation by the cell permeable VIVIT peptide. Activation of calcineurin/NFAT signalling through other stimuli resulted in a much weaker induction of PAI-1 expression, suggesting that other NGF-induced pathways are involved in PAI-1 upregulation. Overexpression of either DYRK1A or RCAN1 negatively regulated NFAT-dependent transcriptional activity and reduced the upregulation of PAI-1 levels by NGF.


The present results show that the calcineurin/NFAT pathway mediates the upregulation of PAI-1 by NGF. The negative effect of DYRK1A and RCAN1 overexpression on NGF signal transduction in neural cells may contribute to the altered neurodevelopment and brain function in Down syndrome.

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