• cAMP-response element binding protein;
  • cell survival;
  • neurotrophin-3;
  • oligodendrocytes;
  • sphingosine kinase 1;
  • sphingosine-1-phosphate


We had found previously that neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) is a potent stimulator of cAMP-response element binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation in cultured oligodendrocyte progenitors. Here, we show that CREB phosphorylation in these cells is also highly stimulated by sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), a sphingolipid metabolite that is known to be a potent mediator of numerous biological processes. Moreover, CREB phosphorylation in response to NT-3 involves sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1), the enzyme that synthesizes S1P. Immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy indicated that NT-3 induces translocation of SphK1 from the cytoplasm to the plasma membrane of oligodendrocytes, a process accompanied by increased SphK1 activity in the membrane fraction where its substrate sphingosine resides. To examine the involvement of SphK1 in NT-3 function, SphK1 expression was down-regulated by treatment with SphK1 sequence-specific small interfering RNA. Remarkably, the capacity of NT-3 to protect oligodendrocyte progenitors from apoptotic cell death induced by growth factor deprivation was abolished by down-regulating the expression of SphK1, as assessed by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) assay. Altogether, these results suggest that SphK1 plays a crucial role in the stimulation of oligodendrocyte progenitor survival by NT-3, and demonstrate a functional link between NT-3 and S1P signaling, adding to the complexity of mechanisms that modulate neurotrophin function and oligodendrocyte development.