Activation of cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) is implicated in neuronal survival. The mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal regulated kinase (MAPK/ERK) activates a transcription factor CREB. Previously, we reported that N-acetyl-O-methyldopamine (NAMDA) protects neurons from ischemia via enhancing ERK dependent CREB phosphorylation. To investigate whether NAMDA induces endogenous survival pathways in apoptotic conditions and whether the neuroprotectant enhances a preexisting survival pathway, we determined the degree of ERK-CREB activation and resistance to apoptosis in staurosporine-treated SK-N-BE(2)C neurons. Compared to forskolin-treated apoptotic cultures, NAMDA-treated cultures induced a minimum activation on ERK (pERK) or CREB (pCREB). However, NAMDA enhanced the activation of ERK and CREB in the presence of forskolin (1.7-fold increase for pCREB, 2.1-fold increase for pERK2, p < 0.05 from forskolin). The effect was completely blocked by a specific MEK inhibitor U0126, suggesting the involvement of ERK dependent CREB signaling. Cleavage of caspase-3 and poly-(ADP-ribose)-polymerase was additively reduced in cultures treated with NAMDA and forskolin simultaneously, but not in the presence of U0126. The data showed that NAMDA enhances forskolin-induced ERK-CREB activation and potentiates forskolin-induced resistance to apoptosis. The study indicates that enhancing endogenous survival pathways by NAMDA combined with other neuroprotective measure(s) might be a useful strategy to reduce apoptosis.
- ERK-CREB pathway
- Neuronal survival