Nerve growth factor (NGF) and other neurotrophins support survival of neurons through processes that are incompletely understood. The transcription factor CREB is a critical mediator of NGF-dependent gene expression, but whether CREB family transcription factors regulate expression of genes that contribute to NGF-dependent survival of sympathetic neurons is unknown, CREB- mediated gene expression was both necessary for NGF-dependent survival and sufficient on its own to promote survival of sympathetic neurons. Moreover, expression of Bcl-2 was activated by NGF and other neurotrophins by a CREB- dependent transcriptional mechanism. Overexpression of Bcl-2 reduced the death-promoting effects of CREB inhibition. Together, these data support a model in which neurotrophins promote survival of neurons, in part through a mechanism involving CREB family transcription factor-dependent expression of genes encoding prosurvival factors.
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