Pituitary adenylate cyclase activating polypeptide (PACAP)/PAC1-HOP1 receptor activation coordinates multiple neurotrophic signaling pathways: Akt activation through PI3K and vesicle endocytosis for neuronal survival

Victor May, E. Lutz, C. MacKenzie, Kirstin C. Schutz, Kate Dozark, Karen M. Braas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

46 Citations (Scopus)


MAPK and Akt pathways are predominant mediators of trophic signaling for many neuronal systems. Among the vasoactive intestinal peptide/secretin/glucagon family of related peptides, pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) binding to specific PAC1 receptor isoforms can engage multiple signaling pathways and promote neuroprotection through mechanisms that are not well understood. Using a primary sympathetic neuronal system, the current studies demonstrate that PACAP activation of PAC1HOP1 receptors engages both MAPK and Akt neurotrophic pathways in an integrated program to facilitate neuronal survival after growth factor withdrawal. PACAP not only stimulated prosurvival ERK1/2 and ERK5 activation but also abrogated SAPK/JNK and p38 MAPK signaling in parallel. In contrast to the potent and rapid effects of PACAP in ERK1/2 phosphorylation, PACAP stimulated Akt phosphorylation in a late phase of PAC1HOP1 receptor signaling. From inhibitor and immunoprecipitation analyses, the PACAP/PAC1HOP1 receptor-mediated Akt responses did not represent transactivation mechanisms but appeared to depend on Gαq/phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase γ activity and vesicular internalization pathways. Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase γ-selective inhibitors blocked PACAP-stimulated Akt phosphorylation in primary neuronal cultures and in PAC1HOP1-overexpressing cell lines; RNA interference-mediated knockdown of the receptor effectors attenuated PACAP-mediated Akt activation. Similarly, perturbation of endocytic pathways also blocked Akt phosphorylation. Between ERK and Akt pathways, PACAP-stimulated Akt signaling was the primary cascade that attenuated cultured neuron apoptosis after growth factor withdrawal. The partitioning of PACAP-mediated Akt signaling in endosomes may be a key mechanism contributing to the high spatial and temporal specificity in signal transduction necessary for survival pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9749-9761
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2010



  • cerebellar granule neurons
  • dependent protein-kinase
  • nerve growth-factor
  • rat sympathetic neurons
  • cyclic-amp
  • pacap receptor
  • pac(1) receptor
  • neuropeptide-y
  • map kinase
  • pc12 cells

Cite this