Genes regulated in neurons undergoing transcription-dependent apoptosis belong to signaling pathways rather than the apoptotic machinery

Desagher, S.; Severac, D.; Lipkin, A.; Bernis, C.; Ritchie, W.; Le Digarcher, A.; Journot, L.

Journal of Biological Chemistry

2005-02-18 / vol 280 / pages 5693-5702


Neuronal apoptosis has been shown to require de novo RNA/protein synthesis. However, very few genes whose expression is necessary for inducing apoptosis have been identified so far. To systematically identify such genes, we have used genome-scale, long oligonucleotide microarrays and characterized the gene expression profile of cerebellar granule neurons in the early phase of apoptosis elicited by KCl deprivation. We identified 368 significantly differentially expressed genes, including most of the genes previously reported to be transcriptionally regulated in this paradigm. In addition, we identified several hundreds of genes whose transcriptional regulation has never been associated with neuronal apoptosis. We used automated Gene Ontology annotation, analysis of promoter sequences, and statistical tools to characterize these regulations. Although differentially expressed genes included some components of the apoptotic machinery, this functional category was not significantly over-represented among regulated genes. On the other hand, categories related to signal transduction were the most significantly over-represented group. This indicates that the apoptotic machinery is mainly constitutive, whereas molecular pathways that lead to the activation of apoptotic components are transcriptionally regulated. In particular, we show for the first time that signaling pathways known to be involved in the control of neuronal survival are regulated at the transcriptional level and not only by post-translational mechanisms. Moreover, our approach provides insights into novel transcription factors and novel mechanisms, such as the unfolded protein response and cell adhesion, that may contribute to the induction of neuronal apoptosis.



messenger-rna; survival; induction; programmed cell-death; bcl-2 family-member; cerebellar granule neurons; cytochrome-c release; endoplasmic-reticulum stress; growth-factor-i; jnk pathway

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