Differential expression of immediate-early genes during synaptic plasticity, seizures and brain injury suggests specific functions for these molecules in brain neurons
Although the discovery of immediate-early gene expression in brain and spinal cord neurons occured over 6 years ago (Dragunow et al. 1987; Ruppert and Wille 1987; Dragunow and Robertson 1987; Hunt et al. 1987; Morgan et al. 1987; White et al. 1987; Saffen et al. 1988), the functional role of the sub-group that generates DNA-binding proteins (the immediate-early gene proteins, IEGPs) in neurons remains obscure. We have taken a number of approaches to discovering the functions of these proteins including describing the physiological and pathological conditions in which different IEGPs are expressed, and the biochemical pathways (e.g.: neurotransmitters, receptors, second messengers, etc) involved in their expression in particular brain regions after specific inducing stimuli. The goal of this work is to then focus on the functional role of particular IEGPs in particular systems. Using drugs which block IEGP expression by interfering with the biochemical pathway through which they are induced we can initially test the role of a particular IEGP in a non-specific fashion. Subsequently, using antisense DNA technology in vivo to inactivate specific genes (Chiasson et al. 1992), we can directly test the role of a particular IEGP in our test system.
KeywordsDopamine Glucocorticoid Neurol Gall Statin
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