, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 753-769

Neuregulin Induces Sustained Reactive Oxygen Species Generation to Mediate Neuronal Differentiation

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Neuregulins (NRGs), which are highly expressed in the nervous system, bind and activate two receptor tyrosine kinases, ErbB-3 and ErbB-4. Recently, we have shown that ErbB-4 receptors expressed in PC12 cells mediate NRG-induced differentiation through the MAPK signaling pathway. Here we demonstrate that NRG induces an increase in the intracellular concentration of reactive oxygen species (ROS). N-acetylcysteine, a ROS scavenger, inhibited NRG-induced activation of Ras and Erk and PC12-ErbB-4 cell differentiation. These results suggest that ROS production is involved in NRG-mediated neuronal differentiation and that ROS can regulate activation of Ras and Erk. Constitutively active Ras enhanced ROS production and dominant negative Ras inhibited NRG-induced ROS production, suggesting, a positive regulatory loop between Ras and ROS. The mitogen, EGF, induced short-term ROS production whereas NRG and NGF, which induce cell differentiation, induced prolonged ROS production. These results strongly suggest that the kinetics of ROS production may determine whether the cells will differentiate or proliferate.