Retinoic acid-induced nNOS expression depends on a novel PI3K/Akt/DAX1 pathway in human TGW-nu-I neuroblastoma cells

Published on Monday, 04 May 2015


Neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS)-derived nitric oxide (NO) acts as a neurotransmitter and intracellular signaling molecule in the central and peripheral nervous system. NO regulates multiple processes like neuronal development, plasticity, and differentiation and is a mediator of neurotoxicity. The nNOS gene is highly complex with 12 alternative first exons, exon 1a-1l, transcribed from distinct promoters, leading to nNOS variants with different 5'-untranslated regions. Transcriptional control of the nNOS gene is not understood in detail.

To investigate regulation of nNOS gene expression by retinoic acid (RA), we used the human neuroblastoma cell line TGW-nu-I as a model system. We show that RA induces nNOS transcription in a protein synthesis-dependent fashion.

We identify the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway and the atypical orphan nuclear receptor DAX1 (NR0B1) as critical mediators involved in RA-induced nNOS gene transcription. RA treatment increases DAX1 expression via PI3K/Akt signaling. Upregulation of DAX1 expression in turn induces nNOS transcription in response to RA.

These results identify nNOS as a target gene of a novel RA/PI3K/Akt/DAX1-dependent pathway in human neuroblastoma cells and stress the functional importance of the transcriptional regulator DAX1 for nNOS gene expression in response to RA treatment.



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See also All-Trans-Retinoic Acid (ATRA - analogues and/or derivatives).