Overlapping and divergent actions of estrogen and the neurotrophins on cell fate and p53-dependent signal transduction in conditionally immortalized cerebral cortical neuroblasts. Academic Article uri icon


  • The developing cerebral cortex undergoes overlapping periods of neurogenesis, suicide, and differentiation to generate the mature cortical plate. The following experiments examined the role of the gonadal hormone estrogen in comparison to the neurotrophins, in the regulation of p53-dependent cortical cell fate. To synchronize choices between neurogenesis, apoptosis, and neural differentiation, embryonic rat cerebral cortical neuroblasts were conditionally immortalized with the SV40 large T antigen containing the tsA58/U19 temperature-sensitive mutations. At the nonpermissive temperature, cessation of large T antigen expression was accompanied by induction of p53, as well as the p53-dependent proteins, wild-type p53-activated fragment-1/Cdk (cyclin-dependent kinase)-interacting protein-1 (p21/Waf1), Bcl (B-cell lymphoma)-associated protein (Bax), and murine double minute 2 (MDM2), that lead to cell cycle-arrest, suicide, and p53 inhibition, respectively. Simultaneously, neuroblasts exit cell cycle and die apoptotically or differentiate primarily into astrocytes and immature postmitotic neuroblasts. At the nonpermissive temperature, estrogen specifically induced an antagonist-independent increase in phosphorylated p53 expression, while increasing p21/Waf1 and decreasing Bax. Coincidentally, estrogen rapidly increased and then decreased MDM2 relative to controls, suggesting temporal modulation of p53 function. Both estrogen and neurotrophins prevented DNA fragmentation, a marker for apoptosis. However, estrogen also induced a transient increase in released lactate dehydrogenase, suggesting that estrogen simultaneously induced rapid cell death in a subpopulation of cells. In contrast to the neurotrophins, estrogen also increased cell proliferation. Both estrogen and the neurotrophins supported neuronal differentiation. However, in contrast to the neurotrophins, estrogen only supported the expression of a subset of oligodendrocytic markers. These results suggest that estrogen and the neurotrophins support overlapping and distinct aspects of differentiation in the developing cerebral cortex.

published proceedings

  • J Neurosci

author list (cited authors)

  • Wade, S. B., Oommen, P., Conner, W. C., Earnest, D. J., & Miranda, R. C.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Wade, SB||Oommen, P||Conner, WC||Earnest, DJ||Miranda, RC

publication date

  • August 1999