To investigate the role of the Egr family of transcription regulatory factors in neuronal apoptosis, we examined the effect of a dominant negative Egr inhibitor construct in a well characterized in vitro paradigm, cerebellar granule cell death induced by withdrawal of depolarizing concentrations of extracellular potassium. We found that this apoptotic stimulus increases the activity of a reporter gene driven by the Egr response element and that a dominant negative inhibitor of Egr-mediated transcription blocks granule cell apoptosis. In contrast, apoptosis of immature granule cells induced by cytosine arabinoside is not inhibited by the Egr inhibitor construct. Because activation of c-Jun is an essential step in granule cell death induced by potassium deprivation, but not cytosine arabinoside, we asked whether the Egr inhibitor acts by influencing c-Jun activation or its ability to induce apoptosis. We found that the Egr inhibitor does not block the ability of a constitutively active c-Jun construct to induce apoptosis in these cells but does suppress activation of c-Jun-mediated transcription induced by lowering extracellular potassium concentration. Furthermore, the Egr inhibitor blocks the ability of MEKK1 [mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase kinase 1], an upstream kinase capable of stimulating the JNK (c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase)-c-Jun pathway, to induce apoptosis and activate c-Jun. Together, these studies indicate that the Egr family of transcription factors plays a critical role in neuronal apoptosis and identify c-Jun activation as an important downstream target of the Egr family in this process.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Journal of Neuroscience|
|State||Published - Aug 15 2001|
- Cytosine arabinoside
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