A team of researchers, led by Valina Dawson and Ted Dawson, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, has now identified the gene regulatory protein NFI-A as a new molecular regulator of nerve cell protection in mice. Such information has implications for developing therapeutics that could provide protection against nerve cell death due to neurologic disorders and stroke.
Sublethal doses of the molecule NMDA induce nerve cells to trigger a molecular survival program. NFI-A is one protein upregulated in this context, but its role in nerve cell survival had not been determined. In this study, knocking down NFI-A induction in mouse nerve cells substantially reduced the neuroprotective effects of sublethal doses of NMDA, indicating a role in the molecular survival program triggered by sublethal doses of NMDA. Several other lines of evidence supported this conclusion and even indicated that NFI-A was required for the protective effects of sublethal doses of NMDA.
These data, define NFI-A as a gene regulatory protein central to nerve cell protection.
The research appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
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