Differentiation of rat pheochromocytoma PC12 cells into neuron-like cells was induced by nerve growth factor (NGF) and changes in the apparent rate of synthesis of cellular proteins were analyzed. Attention was particularly focused on the first few hours of exposure to NGF before significant neurite outgrowth was detectable. Cultures were pulse-labeled for 1-h periods with [35S]methionine and proteins were extracted from various subcellular fractions and analyzed by one-dimensional gradient and two-dimensional equilibrium and nonequilibrium gel electrophoresis. The results showed that although the general level of protein synthesis remained constant, by 8 h NGF increased the apparent rate of synthesis of approximately 11 cytoplasmic and 5 nuclear proteins. For several of these proteins, the effect was apparently NGF-specific, since no induction was observed in dibutyryl cAMP-treated cells. Of interest was the following observation: of the five nuclear proteins, NGF increased the synthesis of two proteins with MrS of 56,000 [doublet] and 50,000 D that were associated with a biochemically and morphologically defined nuclear matrix fraction. A cytoplasmic protein, with an Mr of 92,000 D (pI 4.8) appeared to be induced de novo by NGF. NGF also decreased the rate of synthesis of several cytoplasmic and nuclear proteins of low molecular mass (less than 40,000 D). Since only 1-h pulses of [35S]methionine were used, and since experiments with actinomycin D showed that most of these NGF-induced early changes in rates of synthesis included a transcription-dependent step, it seems likely that early effects of NGF include activation of specific genes.

This content is only available as a PDF.