Alterations in dendrite branching and morphology are present in many neurodegenerative diseases. These variations disrupt postsynaptic transmission and affect neuronal communication. Thus, it is important to understand the molecular mechanisms that regulate dendritogenesis and how they go awry during disease states. Previously, our laboratory showed that cypin, a mammalian guanine deaminase, increases dendrite number when overexpressed and decreases dendrite number when knocked down in cultured hippocampal neurons. Here,wereport that exposure to brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an important mediator of dendrite arborization, for 72 h but not for 24 h or less increases cypin mRNA and protein levels in rat hippocampal neurons. BDNF signals through cypin to regulate dendrite number, since knocking down cypin blocks the effects of BDNF. Furthermore, BDNF increases cypin levels via mitogen-activated protein kinase and transcription-dependent signaling pathways. Moreover, the cypin promoter region contains putative conserved cAMP response element (CRE) regions, which we found can be recognized and activated by CRE-binding protein (CREB). In addition, exposure of the neurons to BDNF increased CREB binding to the cypin promoter and, in line with these data, expression of a dominant negative form of CREB blocked BDNF-promoted increases in cypin protein levels and proximal dendrite branches. Together, these studies suggest that BDNF increases neuronal cypin expression by the activation of CREB, increasing cypin transcription leading to increased protein expression, thus identifying a novel pathway by which BDNF shapes the dendrite network.
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