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Keywords:

  • brain-derived neurotrophic factor;
  • cAMP response element-binding protein;
  • cAMP response element-binding protein-regulated transcription coactivator 1;
  • dendrites;
  • hepatocyte growth factor;
  • rat

Abstract

Acquisition of a mature dendritic morphology is critical for neural information processing. In particular, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) controls dendritic arborization during brain development. However, the cellular mechanisms underlying the effects of HGF on dendritic growth remain elusive. Here, we show that HGF increases dendritic length and branching of rat cortical neurons through activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway. Activation of MAPK by HGF leads to the rapid and transient phosphorylation of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB), a key step necessary for the control of dendritic development by HGF. In addition to CREB phosphorylation, regulation of dendritic growth by HGF requires the interaction between CREB and CREB-regulated transcription coactivator 1 (CRTC1), as expression of a mutated form of CREB unable to bind CRTC1 completely abolished the effects of HGF on dendritic morphology. Treatment of cortical neurons with HGF in combination with brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a member of the neurotrophin family that regulates dendritic development via similar mechanisms, showed additive effects on MAPK activation, CREB phosphorylation and dendritic growth. Collectively, these results support the conclusion that regulation of cortical dendritic morphology by HGF is mediated by activation of the MAPK pathway, phosphorylation of CREB and interaction of CREB with CRTC1.