• antisense oligonucleotide;
  • insulin-like growth factor I;
  • neurite outgrowth;
  • neuroblastoma cells;
  • neuron-restrictive silencer factor;
  • repressor element 1 silencing transcription factor


The repressor element-1 (RE-1) silencing transcription factor (REST) interacts with an RE-1 cis element and represses the transcription of neuron-specific genes in neuronal progenitors but is down-regulated in post-mitotic neurons. We report that REST expression is modified, in a time-dependent manner, in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells exposed to insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), a polypeptide hormone affecting various aspects of neuronal induction and maturation. REST is increased in cells treated with IGF-I for 2 days and then declines in 5-day-treated cells concomitant with a progressive neurite extension. To investigate any role played by REST in neurodifferentiation by IGF-I, we employed an antisense oligonucleotide (AS-ODN) complementary to REST mRNA. In AS-ODN-treated cells, the effects elicited by IGF-I on cell proliferation are not influenced whereas a marked decrease of REST significantly increases neurite elongation without any gross perturbation of neurogenesis. Synapsin I and βIII-tubulin gene promoters contain an RE-1 motif and their transcription is repressed by REST; both of them are increased in cells exposed to IGF-I for 5 days and further elevated by AS-ODN treatment. A parallel increase of growth cone-associated protein 43, a protein chosen as a neuronal marker not directly regulated by REST, is also observed. Therefore, REST is elevated during early steps of neural induction by IGF-I and could contribute to down-regulate genes not yet required by the differentiation program while it declines later for the acquisition of neural phenotypes. These results suggest a model in which differentiating neuroblastoma cells determine their extent of neurite outgrowth on the basis of REST disappearance.