Cell-type-specific expression and regulation of a c-fos-NGF fusion gene in neurons and astrocytes of transgenic mice.

Brain research. Molecular brain research

PubMedID: 8170347

Onténiente B, Horellou P, Neveu I, Makeh I, Suzuki F, Bourdet C, Grimber G, Colin P, Brachet P, Mallet J. Cell-type-specific expression and regulation of a c-fos-NGF fusion gene in neurons and astrocytes of transgenic mice. Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1994;21(3-4):225-34.
A mouse line transgenic for nerve growth factor (NGF) was developed using the mouse prepro-NGF cDNA inserted within a plasmid containing the proximal region (-10 to -550 bp) of the c-fos promoter and the transcription termination and polyadenylation signals of the rabbit beta-globin gene. No significant modification of gross behavior or central nervous system anatomy was detected in adult animals as assessed by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization for NGF and choline acetyltransferase. The expression of the transgene and the possible regulation of its expression by agents acting on the promoter were investigated in vitro. Despite the presence of an additional pool of NGF mRNA specific to the transgene, basal levels of NGF in the supernatant of transgenic astrocytes were similar to normal ones. On the other hand, transgenic neurons spontaneously synthesized and released levels of NGF two to three times higher than normal neurons, while mRNA levels were barely detectable by conventional Northern blotting. The tissue-specificity of NGF expression was respected, with higher levels in hippocampal than neocortical neurons. Increases of NGF mRNA by agents acting on the promoter could be observed in normal and transgenic astrocytes only after inhibition of the protein synthesis by cycloheximide, suggesting a similar rapid turnover of normal and transgenic transcripts. Cyclic AMP agonists specifically increased the secretion of NGF protein by transgenic astrocytes and neurons, while activators of the protein kinase C had a similar effect on transgenic and normal cells. Differences between amounts of NGF secreted by neurons and astrocytes with regards to their respective content in mRNA suggest that transgenic transcripts are subject to normal cell- and tissue-specific post-transcriptional regulations. Agents acting on the c-fos promoter through the protein kinase C or cyclic AMP routes differentially increased the secretion of NGF by transgenic astrocytes or neurons, supporting this hypothesis.