Expression of Dense-core Vesicles and of Their Exocytosis Are Governed by the Repressive Transcription Factor NRSF/REST

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Abstract

The mechanism by which neurons and neurosecretory cells govern the expression and the exocytic discharge of their clear and dense-core vesicles had remained unclear until recently when studies in the neurosecretory cell model PC12 revealed these processes to be orchestrated by the transcriptional repressor neuron restrictive silencer factor (NRSF)/repressor element-1 silencing transcription factor (REST). In wild-type PC12 fully competent for neurosecretion, NRSF/REST is low. The genes of the proteins involved in neurosecretion [from the secretory to vesicle membrane and plasma membrane proteins, including the solubleN-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors (SNAREs) of exocytosis] were all repressed by increases of NRSF/REST expression to various extents when the increase was only a fewfold but were completely or almost completely repressed when the increase was large, as in spontaneously defective PC12 clones. In the first case the dense-core vesicles were still competent for exocytosis but were smaller and less dense than in wild-type cells; in the second they were no longer visible but did reappear when the repression was attenuated by transfection of a dominant-negative construct of NRSF/REST combined with a secretory chromogranin or strengthened by treatment with a blocker of NRSF/REST-associated enzymes, the histone deacetylases.

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