Nerve growth factor (NGF)-induced differentiation of the rat pheochromocytoma, PC12, cell line presents a model system for the study of early gene expression changes involved in neuronal differentiation. Rapid alterations in mRNA expression patterns were investigated in PC12 cells following exposure to NGF using a set of statistically designed primers that exhibit coding-strand bias, and the products were analyzed on agarose gels. This simple and rapid method (targeted display) generated reproducible expression profiles, indicating a complex pattern of gene regulation, and resulted in the identification of a number of NGF-regulated transcripts. Thirty-two of these were selected at random and sequenced, revealing 19 known and 13 novel genes (or ESTs). Northern blot analysis and RT-PCR confirmed the differential regulation of 22 genes (16 known, 6 novel) and demonstrated 1 false positive result. Antisense application of one isolated gene product, the serine/threonine kinase MARK1, prevented neuronal differentiation in transiently transfected PC12 cells.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.