NGF induces transient but not sustained activation of ERK in PC12 mutant cells incapable of differentiating

Rami Yaka, Amir Gamliel, David Gurwitz, Reuven Stein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Activation of receptor tyrosine kinases stimulates a diverse array of cellular responses such as proliferation and differentiation. The first events in the signal transduction pathways mediated by different receptor tyrosine kinases are similar and include activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway and the induction of immediate early genes. The precise signaling pathways leading to each of the cellular responses mediated by receptor tyrosine kinases are still unknown, although it has been proposed that sustained activation of the MAPK pathway by receptor tyrosine kinases such as the nerve growth factor (NGF) receptor TrkA is sufficient to induce differentiation in PC12 cells. In the present study we examined the effect of NGF on mutant PC12 cells that were derived spontaneously in our cultures. NGF induced normal activation of immediate early genes in these cells, whereas the activation of some delayed response genes, as well as neurite outgrowth, was impaired. Furthermore, activation of the NGF-induced extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in these cells was transient, not sustained. These results support the hypothesis that sustained activation of ERK plays an important role in activating the induction of delayed response genes. However, sustained ERK activation is not a mandatory condition for the promotion of all the features of differentiated PC12 cells, as NGF could induce transcription of the delayed response gene, transin, in PC12 mutant cells. Taken together, our results suggest that NGF induces differentiation of PC12 cells via several signaling pathways, an important one of which is the MAPK pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-432
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 1998


  • Differentiation
  • Mitogen-activated protein kinase
  • Nerve growth factor
  • PC12 cells
  • Tyrosine kinase receptors


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