The cAMP pathway in combination with BMP2 regulates Phox2a transcription via cAMP response element binding sites

Chutamas Benjanirut, Maryline Paris, Wen Horng Wang, Jong Hong Seok, Soo Kim Kwang, Ronald L. Hullinger, Ourania M. Andrisani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Combined BMP2 and cAMP signaling induces the catecholaminergic lineage in neural crest (NC) cultures by increasing expression of the proneural transcription factor Phox2a, in a cAMP response element (CRE)-binding protein (CREB)-mediated mechanism. To determine whether CREB acts directly on Phox2a transcription induced by BMP2+cAMP-elevating agent IBMX, transient transfections of hPhox2a-reporter constructs were performed in avian NC cultures and murine, catecholaminergic CAD cells. Although BMP2+IBMX increased endogenous Phox2a expression, the 7.5-kb hPhox2a reporters expressing either luciferase or DsRed1-E5 fluorescent protein were unresponsive to BMP2+IBMX, but active in both cell types. Cell sorting of fluorescence-positive NC cells expressing the 7.5-kb hPhox2a fluorescent timer reporter differentiated to equal numbers of catecholaminergic cells as fluorescence-negative cells, suggesting inappropriate transcription from the transfected hPhox2a promoter. NC or CAD cells treated with histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A and BMP2+IBMX display increased endogenous Phox2a transcription and prolonged CREB phosphorylation, indicating Phox2a chromatin remodeling is linked to CREB activation. Chromatin immunoprecipitations employing CREB, CREB-binding protein, and acetylated H4 antibodies identified two CRE half-sites at -5.5 kb in the murine Phox2a promoter, which is also conserved in the human promoter. Proximal to the CRE half-sites, within a 170-bp region, are E-box and CCAAT binding sites, also conserved in mouse and human genes. This 170-bp promoter region confers cAMP, BMP2, and enhanced BMP2+cAMP regulation to Phox2a-luciferase reporters. We conclude these CREs are functional, with CREB directly activating Phox2a transcription. Because the E-box binds bHLH proteins like ASH1 induced in NC cells by BMP2, we propose this novel 170-bp cis-acting element is a composite site, mediating the synergistic regulation by BMP2+cAMP on Phox2a transcription.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2969-2981
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Feb 3 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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