ERK5 MAP kinase regulates neurogenin1 during cortical neurogenesis

Paige Cundiff, Lidong Liu, Yupeng Wang, Junhui Zou, Yung Wei Pan, Glen Abel, Xin Duan, Guo Li Ming, Chris Englund, Robert Hevner, Zhengui Xia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The commitment of multi-potent cortical progenitors to a neuronal fate depends on the transient induction of the basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH) family of transcription factors including Neurogenin 1 (Neurog1). Previous studies have focused on mechanisms that control the expression of these proteins while little is known about whether their pro-neural activities can be regulated by kinase signaling pathways. Using primary cultures and ex vivo slice cultures, here we report that both the transcriptional and pro-neural activities of Neurog1 are regulated by extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 5 signaling in cortical progenitors. Activation of ERK5 potentiated, while blocking ERK5 inhibited Neurog1-induced neurogenesis. Furthermore, endogenous ERK5 activity was required for Neurog1-initiated transcription. Interestingly, ERK5 activation was sufficient to induce Neurog1 phosphorylation and ERK5 directly phosphorylated Neurog1 in vitro. We identified S179/S208 as putative ERK5 phosphorylation sites in Neurog1. Mutations of S179/S208 to alanines inhibited the transcriptional and pro-neural activities of Neurog1. Our data identify ERK5 phosphorylation of Neurog1 as a novel mechanism regulating neuronal fate commitment of cortical progenitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere5204
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 13 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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