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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jul 22;94(15):8185-90.

Expression and activation of SH2/PTB-containing ShcA adaptor protein reflects the pattern of neurogenesis in the mammalian brain.

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Institute of Pharmacological Sciences, University of Milano, Via Balzaretti 9, Milan 20133, Italy.


The adult mammalian brain comprises many functionally distinct neuronal types, which are generated during development as a result of a coordinated signaling cascade that drives neuroblasts from proliferation into differentiation. We investigated whether and how ShcA adaptor proteins, which are known to function as initiators of the Ras signaling cascade in various nonneuronal systems where they have been considered to be expressed ubiquitously, are involved in the proliferative and differentiative phases of the developing brain. We found that in the forebrain expression and activation of ShcA proteins were strictly regulated during embryonic development, both temporally and spatially. The mRNAs encoded by the ShcA gene were expressed exclusively within an area to which active proliferation of immature neuroblasts was confined, the ventricular zone. In postnatal and adult brain, ShcA mRNAs and proteins were present only faintly. In the adult olfactory epithelium, in which neuronal cell renewal occurs throughout life, ShcA remained strongly expressed. These phenomena were peculiar to ShcA, since Grb2 adaptor protein remained expressed at constant level throughout development. The embryonically expressed ShcA proteins were functionally active, since p52(ShcA) became phosphorylated on tyrosine and associated with Grb2 following intraventricular injection of epidermal growth factor in the embryonic brain. Our data indicate that, through an orderly pattern of expression, ShcA gene products may play a role in the control of the switch between proliferation and differentiation of brain neuroblasts.

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