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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)