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Neuroscience. 1998 Jun;84(3):801-12.

Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide stimulates both c-fos gene expression and cell survival in rat cerebellar granule neurons through activation of the protein kinase A pathway.

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European Institute for Peptide Research (IFRMP no. 23), Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Neuroendocrinology, INSERM U413, UA CNRS, University of Rouen, Mont-Saint-Aignan, France.


A high density of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) receptors coupled to both adenylyl cyclase and phospholipase C is found in the external granule cell layer of the rat cerebellum during postnatal development. It has recently been reported that synthetic PACAP promotes cell survival and neurite outgrowth in immature granule cells. In the present study, we have investigated the transduction pathways that mediate the neurotrophic activity of PACAP in cultured granule cells from eight-day-old rat cerebellum. The effect of PACAP on cell survival was mimicked by dibutyryladenosine 3',5'-cyclic-monophosphate but not phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate suggesting that only the adenylyl cyclase pathway is involved in the neurotrophic activity of PACAP. PACAP also induced a transient increase in c-fos messenger RNA level. The ability of PACAP to stimulate c-fos gene expression was mimicked by dibutyryladenosine 3',5'-cyclic-monophosphate but not phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate. Similar effects of PACAP on granule cell survival were observed whether the cells were continuously incubated with PACAP for 48 h or only exposed to PACAP during 1 h. The protein kinase A inhibitor H89 significantly reduced the effect of PACAP on c-fos messenger RNA level whereas the specific protein kinase C inhibitor chelerythrine did not modify c-fos gene expression. These data indicate that the action of PACAP on cerebellar granule cell survival and c-fos gene expression are both mediated through the adenylyl cyclase/protein kinase A pathway. The observation that a short-term stimulation by PACAP can be converted into a long-lasting response indicates that the effect of the peptide on cell survival must involve immediate-early gene activation. The fact that a brief exposure to PACAP causes both c-fos gene expression and promotes cell survival strongly suggests that c-fos is involved in the trophic effect of PACAP on immature cerebellar granule cells.

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