Glutamate-induced octamer DNA binding and transcriptional control in cultured radial glia cells

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Glutamate, the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the vertebrate brain, is critically involved in gene expression regulation in neurons and in glia cells. Neuron–glia interactions provide the framework for synaptic plasticity. Retinal and cerebellar radial glia cells surround glutamatergic excitatory synapses and sense synaptic activity through glutamate receptors expressed in their membranes. Several glutamate-dependent membrane to nuclei signaling cascades have been described in these cells. Octamer DNA binding factors, namely Oct-1 and Oct-2 recognize similar DNA sequences on regulatory regions, but their final transcriptional effect depends on several factors. By these means, different responses can be achieved in different cell types. Here, we describe a comparison between the glutamate-induced DNA binding of octamer factors and their functional activities in two important types of radial glia, retinal Müller and cerebellar Bergmann glial cells. While Oct-1 is expressed in both cell types and in both glutamate treatments results in an increase in Oct-1 DNA binding, this complex is capable of transactivating a reporter gene only in Müller glia cells. In contrast, Oct-2 expression is restricted to Bergmann glia cells in which glutamate treatment results in an augmentation of Oct-2 DNA binding complexes and the repression of kainate binding protein gene transcription. Our present findings demonstrate a differential role for Oct-1 and Oct-2 transcription factors in glial glutamate signaling, and further strengthen the notion of an important role for glial cells in glutamatergic transactions in the central nervous system.

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