Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurosci. 1999 Jan 15;19(2):664-73.

A role for MAPK/ERK in sympathetic neuron survival: protection against a p53-dependent, JNK-independent induction of apoptosis by cytosine arabinoside.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry, Cambridge University, Cambridge, CB2 1QW, United Kingdom.


The antimitotic nucleoside cytosine arabinoside (araC) causes apoptosis in postmitotic neurons for which two mechanisms have been suggested: (1) araC directly inhibits a trophic factor-maintained signaling pathway required for survival, effectively mimicking trophic factor withdrawal; and (2) araC induces apoptosis by a p53-dependent mechanism distinct from trophic factor withdrawal. In rat sympathetic neurons, we found that araC treatment for 12 hr induced approximately 25% apoptosis without affecting NGF-maintained signaling; there was neither reduction in the activity of mitogen activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (MAPK/ERK) or protein kinase B/Akt, a kinase implicated in NGF-mediated survival, nor was there c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation or c-Jun N-terminal phosphorylation, events implicated in apoptosis induced by NGF withdrawal. However, araC treatment, but not NGF-withdrawal, elevated expression of p53 protein before and during apoptosis. Additionally, araC-induced apoptosis was suppressed in sympathetic neurons from p53 null mice. Although MAPK/ERK activity is not necessary for NGF-induced survival, it protected against toxicity by araC, because inhibition of the MAPK pathway by PD98059 resulted in a significant increase in the rate of apoptosis induced by araC in the presence of NGF. Consistent with this finding, ciliary neurotrophic factor, which does not cause sustained activation of MAPK/ERK, did not protect against araC toxicity. Our data show that, in contrast to NGF deprivation, araC induces apoptosis via a p53-dependent, JNK-independent mechanism, against which MAPK/ERK plays a substantial protective role. Thus, NGF can suppress apoptotic mechanisms in addition to those caused by its own deprivation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire
Loading ...
Support Center