RNA polymerase 1-driven transcription as a mediator of BDNF-induced neurite outgrowth

Cynthia Gomes, Scott C. Smith, Mark N. Youssef, Jing Juan Zheng, Theo Hagg, Michal Hetman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Neurite outgrowth is essential for development of the nervous system. Neurotrophins including BDNF are among extracellular signals that regulate neurite outgrowth. The ERK1/2 pathway contributes to intracellular signaling networks transducing the pro-neuritic effects of BDNF. In the nucleolus, RNA polymerase-1 (Pol1)-mediated transcription regulates ribosomal biogenesis, enabling cellular protein synthesis and growth. Hence, we tested the possibility that Pol1 is an effector for pro-neuritic signals such as BDNF. We report that Pol1-mediated nucleolar transcription was increased by BDNF in an ERK1/2-dependent manner in rat forebrain neurons. Conversely, in cultured hippocampal neurons, knockdown of a Pol1 coactivator, transcription initiation factor 1A (TIF1A), attenuated BDNF- or ERK1/2-induced neurite outgrowth. Also, upon overexpression, a constitutively active mutant of TIF1A strongly promoted neurite outgrowth, including increases in total neurite length and branching. Finally, overexpression of wild-type TIF1A enhanced the pro-neuritic effects of ERK1/2 activation. These observations indicate that the Pol1-mediated nucleolar transcription regulates neurite outgrowth and serves as a major pro-neuritic effector of the BDNF-activated ERK1/2 pathway. Thus, development of the nervous system appears critically dependent on the nucleolus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4357-4363
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 11 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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