We show here that CD40 mRNA and protein are expressed by neuronal cells, and are increased in differentiated versus undifferentiated N2a and PC12 cells as measured by RT-PCR, western blotting and immunofluorescence staining. Additionally, immuno histochemistry reveals that neurons from adult mouse and human brain also express CD40 in situ. CD40 ligation results in a time-dependent increase in p44/42 MAPK activation in neuronal cells. Furthermore, ligation of CD40 opposes JNK phosphorylation and activity induced by NGF-β removal from differentiated PC12 cells or serum withdrawal from primary cultured neurons. Importantly, CD40 ligation also protects neuronal cells from NGF-β or serum withdrawal-induced injury and affects neuronal differentiation. Finally, adult mice deficient for the CD40 receptor demonstrate neuronal dysfunction as evidenced by decreased neurofilament isoforms, reduced Bcl-xL:Bax ratio, neuronal morphological change, increased DNA fragmentation, and gross brain abnormality. These changes occur with age, and are clearly evident at 16 months. Taken together, these data demonstrate a role of CD40 in neuronal development, maintenance and protection in vitro and in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)