NGF signaling in PC12 cells: The cooperation of p75NTR with TrkA is needed for the activation of both mTORC2 and the PI3K signalling cascade

Sara Negrini, Rosalba D'Alessandro, Jacopo Meldolesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PC12-27, a PC12 clone characterized by high levels of the transcription repressor REST and by very low mTORC2 activity, had been shown to be unresponsive to NGF, possibly because of its lack of the specific TrkA receptor. The neurotrophin receptor repressed by high REST in PC12-27 cells, however, is shown now to be not TrkA, which is normal, but p75NTR , whose expression is inhibited at the transcriptional level. When treated with NGF, the PC12-27 cells lacking p75NTR exhibited a defective TrkA autophosphorylation restricted, however, to the TrkA(Y490) site, and an impairment of the PI3K signaling cascade. This defect was sustained in part by a mTORC1-dependent feed-back inhibition that in wtPC12 cells appeared marginal. Transfection of p75NTR to a level and surface distribution analogous to wtPC12 did not modify various high REST-dependent properties of PC12-27 cells such as high β-catenin, low TSC2 and high proliferation rate. In contrast, the defective PI3K signaling cascade and its associated mTORC2 activity were largely rescued together with the NGF-induced neurite outgrowth response. These changes were not due to p75NTR alone but required its cooperation with TrkA. Our results demonstrate that, in PC12, high REST induces alterations of NGF signaling which, however, are indirect, dependent on the repression of p75NTR ; and that the well-known potentiation by p75NTR of the TrkA signaling does not concern all the effects induced by NGF but primarily the PI3K cascade and its associated mTORC2, a complex known to play an important role in neural cell differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-866
Number of pages12
JournalBiology Open
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 15 2013


  • ERK and PI3K cascades
  • MTORC1-dependent feed-back inhibition
  • MTORC2
  • PC12-27
  • REST

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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