The Rab5-Rab11 Endosomal Pathway is Required for BDNF-Induced CREB Transcriptional Regulation in Hippocampal Neurons

Andrés González-Gutiérrez, Oscar M. Lazo, Francisca C. Bronfman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a key regulator of the morphology and connectivity of central neurons. We have previously shown that BDNF/TrkB signaling regulates the activity and mobility of the GTPases Rab5 and Rab11, which in turn determine the postendocytic sorting of signaling TrkB receptors. Moreover, decreased Rab5 or Rab11 activity inhibits BDNF-induced dendritic branching. Whether Rab5 or Rab11 activity is important for local events only or for regulating nuclear signaling and gene expression is unknown. Here, we investigated, in rat hippocampal neuronal cultures derived from embryos of unknown sex, whether BDNF-induced signaling cascades are altered when early and recycling endosomes are disrupted by the expression of dominant-negative mutants of Rab5 and Rab11. The activity of both Rab5 and Rab11 was required for sustained activity of Erk1/2 and nuclear CREB phosphorylation, and increased transcription of a BDNF-dependent program of gene expression containing CRE binding sites, which includes activity-regulated genes such as Arc, Dusp1, c-fos, Egr1, and Egr2, and growth and survival genes such as Atf3 and Gem Based on our results, we propose that early and recycling endosomes provide a platform for the integration of neurotrophic signaling from the plasma membrane to the nucleus in neurons, and that this mechanism is likely to regulate neuronal plasticity and survival.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT BDNF is a neurotrophic factor that regulates plastic changes in the brain, including dendritic growth. The cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying this process are not completely understood. Our results uncover the cellular requirements that central neurons possess to integrate the plasma membrane into nuclear signaling in neurons. Our results indicate that the endosomal pathway is required for the signaling cascade initiated by BDNF and its receptors at the plasma membrane to modulate BDNF-dependent gene expression and neuronal dendritic growth mediated by the CREB transcription factor. CREB is a key transcription factor regulating circuit development and learning and memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8042-8054
Number of pages13
JournalThe Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2020


  • BDNF
  • CREB
  • dendrites
  • endosomes
  • Rab11
  • Rab5

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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