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Synaptic regulation of immediate early gene expression in primary cultures of cortical neurons



Synaptic regulation of immediate early gene expression in primary cultures of cortical neurons



Journal of Neurochemistry 57(6): 1862-1872



Neuronal stimulation can rapidly activate several immediate early genes that code for transcription factors. We have used primary cortical cultures to study the regulation of four of these genes, c-fos, c-jun, jun-B, and zif268. Immunocytochemical studies with antibodies to Jun-B, c-Jun, and c-Fos demonstrate intense staining in the nuclei of a subset of cortical neurons in mature cultures (21-25 days in vitro) but not young cultures (3-7 days in vitro). To assess whether this immunoreactivity may be induced by spontaneous synaptic activity that develops with a similar profile, we examined the effects of agents that reduce this synaptic activity. Tetrodotoxin or N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists suppress basal immunoreactivity to Jun-B and c-Fos, but not c-Jun, indicating that the basal level of c-Jun expression is not dependent on electrical activity. Picrotoxin, an agent that increases synaptic excitation indirectly by blocking inhibitory synaptic currents mediated by .gamma.-aminobutyric acidA receptors, markedly increases the percentage of neurons displaying immunoreactivity to c-Fos, C-Jun, Jun-B, and Zif268. Northern analysis suggests that the increases in immunostaining induced by picrotoxin are secondary to a rapid increase in mRNA for these proteins. These findings provide evidence for rapid transcriptional regulation of immediate early genes in cortical neurons by synaptic activity.

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Accession: 007852739

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PMID: 1719131

DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.1991.tb06396.x


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