Ligand-dependent cleavage of the P75 neurotrophin receptor is necessary for NRIF nuclear translocation and apoptosis in sympathetic neurons

Neuron. 2006 Apr 20;50(2):219-32. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2006.03.011.


The p75 neurotrophin receptor regulates neuronal survival, promoting it in some contexts yet activating apoptosis in others. The mechanism by which the receptor elicits these differential effects is poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that p75 is cleaved by gamma-secretase in sympathetic neurons, specifically in response to proapoptotic ligands. This cleavage resulted in ubiquitination and subsequent nuclear translocation of NRIF, a DNA binding protein essential for p75-mediated apoptosis. Inhibition of gamma-secretase or expression of a mutant p75 resistant to this protease prevented receptor proteolysis, blocked NRIF nuclear entry, and prevented apoptosis. In contrast, overexpression of the p75 ICD resulted in NRIF nuclear accumulation and apoptosis. The receptor proteolysis and NRIF nuclear localization were also observed in vivo during naturally occurring cell death in the superior cervical ganglia. These results indicate that p75-mediated apoptosis requires gamma-secretase dependent release of its ICD, which facilitates nuclear translocation of NRIF.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / metabolism
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / pharmacology
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ligands
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Protein Transport / drug effects
  • Protein Transport / physiology
  • Rats
  • Receptor, Nerve Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / metabolism*


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Ligands
  • Receptor, Nerve Growth Factor
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases
  • Endopeptidases