Activity-dependent CREB phosphorylation: Convergence of a fast, sensitive calmodulin kinase pathway and a slow, less sensitive mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway

Gang Yi Wu, Karl Deisseroth, Richard W. Tsien

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The cAMP-responsive element binding protein (CREB), a key regulator of gene expression, is activated by phosphorylation on Ser-133. Several different protein kinases possess the capability of driving this phosphorylation, making it a point of potential convergence for multiple intracellular signaling cascades. Previous work in neurons has indicated that physiologic synaptic stimulation recruits a fast calmodulin kinase IV (CaMKIV)-dependent pathway that dominates early signaling to CREB. Here we show in hippocampal neurons that the fast, CaMK-dependent pathway can be followed by a slower pathway that depends on Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), along with CaMK. This paythway was blocked by dominant-negative Ras and was specifically recruited by depolarizations that produced strong intracellular Ca2+ transients. When both pathways were recruited, phosphorylated CREB (pCREB) formation was overwhelmingly dominated by the CaMK pathway between 0 and 10 min, and by the MAPK pathway at 60 min, whereas the two pathways acted in concert at 30 min. The Ca2+ signals that produced only rapid CaMK signaling to pCREB or both rapid CaMK and slow MAPK signaling deviated significantly for only ≈1 min, yet their differential impact on pCREB extended over a much longer period, between 20 and 60 min and beyond, which is of likely significance for gene expression. The CaMK-dependent MAPK pathway may inform the nucleus about stimulus amplitude. In contrast, the CaMKIV pathway may be well suited to conveying information on the precise timing of localized synaptic stimuli, befitting its greater speed and sensitivity, whereas the previously described calcineurin pathway may carry information about stimulus duration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2808-2813
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 27 2001


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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