• Oligodendrocyte differentiation;
  • Myelination;
  • Cyclic AMP.

Abstract: Several lines of evidence indicate that cyclic AMP (cAMP) induces oligodendrocyte differentiation. However, the mechanism(s) of this stimulation remains unknown. Because in several cell types the transcriptional activity of various cAMP-responsive genes is regulated through a cisacting DNA sequence known as cAMP response element (CRE), we investigated the possible presence of a CRE binding (CREB) protein in myelinating oligodendrocytes. A double-stranded oligonucleotide containing a tandem repeat of the CRE sequence was labeled with T4 kinase in the presence of [32P]ATP and then incubated with a nuclear protein extract from 14-day-old rat brain oligodendrocytes. The reaction mixture was then electrophoresed on nondenaturing polyacrylamide gels. The results indicated the presence of a protein that specifically binds to the CRE sequence. The results were supported by southwestern blotting assays in which the CRE probe bound to a ˜45-kDa protein species. In separate experiments, it was shown that the 45-kDa protein can be phosphorylated in vitro by the catalytic subunit of protein kinase A. Developmental analysis of CREB protein expression indicated a peak at 14 days of age, preceding the peak of myelinogenesis.