CELL BIOLOGY: Switch to Survival

Science  01 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5595, pp. 927c
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5595.927c

Growth factors usually promote cellular proliferation, but, depending on the developmental state of the cells concerned, they also can be responsible for promoting cell survival and differentiation. Colognato et al. examined target- dependent survival of myelin-producing oligodendrocyte cells within the central nervous system. Using mice lacking the integrin receptor subunit α6, which acts as a receptor for the extracellular matrix component laminin, they demonstrated the existence of an integrin-regulated switch activated by contact of oligodendrocytes with laminin-bearing axons. Oligodendrocytes from the α6-deficient mice were more likely to undergo apoptotic cell death in the developing axon tracts than were those from wild-type animals. In the absence of integrin-laminin interaction, the growth factor neuregulin acts through a phosphatidylinositol kinase to promote cell proliferation; after the switch is made, the same growth factor works via the mitogen-activated kinase pathway to promote survival and differentiation. Thus, neuregulin can promote different effects depending on the developmental stages of individual cells. — SMH

Nature Cell Biol. 10.1038/ncb865 (2002).

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