Brain-derived neurotrophic factor induces matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression in neurons via serum response factor/c-Fos pathway

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a pivotal role in the regulation of the transcription of genes that encode proplasticity proteins. In the present study, we provide evidence that stimulation of rat primary cortical neurons with BDNF upregulates matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) mRNA and protein levels and increases enzymatic activity. The BDNF-induced MMP-9 transcription was dependent on extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) pathway and c-Fos expression. Overexpression of AP-1 dimers in neurons led to MMP-9 promoter activation, with the most potent being those that contained c-Fos, whereas knockdown of endogenous c-Fos by small hairpin RNA (shRNA) reduced BDNF-mediated MMP-9 transcription. Additionally, mutation of the proximal AP-1 binding site in the MMP-9 promoter inhibited the activation of MMP-9 transcription. BDNF stimulation of neurons induced binding of endogenous c-Fos to the proximal MMP-9 promoter region. Furthermore, as the c-Fos gene is a known target of serum response factor (SRF), we investigated whether SRF contributes to MMP-9 transcription. Inhibition of SRF and its cofactors by either overexpression of dominant negative mutants or shRNA decreased MMP-9 promoter activation. In summary, we identified a novel signaling cascade activating MMP-9 expression in neurons involving plasticity related proteins: BDNFSRF – c-Fos – MMP-9.

Date of publication
10 July 2013