In PC12 cells, expression of neurosecretion and neurite outgrowth are governed by the transcription repressor REST/NRSF

Rosalba D'Alessandro, Jacopo Meldolesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A rapid drop of the transcription repressor REST/NRSF during precursor differentiation into nerve cells is known to release the repression of hundreds of specific genes and thus to orchestrate the acquisition of the specific phenotype. REST, however, is important not only for differentiation, but also for the maintenance of key properties in mature nerve cell. The PC12 line is uniquely favorable for studying REST because, in addition to the wild-type, low REST neurosecretory cells, it includes spontaneously defective clones lacking neurosecretion, where REST is as high as in non-nerve cells. In this article, we summarize our cell biologic studies of two nerve cell-specific processes dependent on REST, neurosecretion and neurite outgrowth. We demonstrate that, in wild-type PC12 transfected with REST constructs, expression of genes encoding proteins of dense-core and synaptic-like vesicles is decreased, though, to different extents, with chromogranins being the most and the SNAREs (except SNAP25) the least affected. Concomitantly, dense core-vesicles decrease markedly in size but can still be discharged by regulated exocytosis. When, in contrast, dominant-negative constructs of REST are transfected in high-REST PC12, and the main effector enzymes of REST, histone deacetylases, are blocked, dense-core vesicles reappear and are discharged upon stimulation. In high-REST PC12, also neurite outgrowth is inhibited by down regulation of the NGF receptor. Concomitantly, however, high REST induces the expression of proteins and of an exocytic organelle, the enlargeosome, which sustain a Rac1-dependent form of neurite outgrowth, unknown until now, operative in PC12, in neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells, and also in neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1302
Number of pages8
JournalCellular and Molecular Neurobiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Chromogranins
  • Clear vesicles
  • Dense-core vesicles
  • Enlargeosomes
  • Exocytosis
  • Histone deacetylases
  • Nerve cells/non-nerve cells
  • Rac1
  • SNAREs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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