C/EBPβ and C/EBPδ transcription factors: Basic biology and roles in the CNS

Prog Neurobiol. 2015 Sep;132:1-33. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2015.06.003. Epub 2015 Jul 2.


CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP) β and C/EBPδ are transcription factors of the basic-leucine zipper class which share phylogenetic, structural and functional features. In this review we first describe in depth their basic molecular biology which includes fascinating aspects such as the regulated use of alternative initiation codons in the C/EBPβ mRNA. The physical interactions with multiple transcription factors which greatly opens the number of potentially regulated genes or the presence of at least five different types of post-translational modifications are also remarkable molecular mechanisms that modulate C/EBPβ and C/EBPδ function. In the second part, we review the present knowledge on the localization, expression changes and physiological roles of C/EBPβ and C/EBPδ in neurons, astrocytes and microglia. We conclude that C/EBPβ and C/EBPδ share two unique features related to their role in the CNS: whereas in neurons they participate in memory formation and synaptic plasticity, in glial cells they regulate the pro-inflammatory program. Because of their role in neuroinflammation, C/EBPβ and C/EBPδ in microglia are potential targets for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. Any strategy to reduce C/EBPβ and C/EBPδ activity in neuroinflammation needs to take into account its potential side-effects in neurons. Therefore, cell-specific treatments will be required for the successful application of this strategy.

Keywords: Astrocyte; CCAAT/enhancer binding protein; Dopamine (PubChem CID: 681); Forskolin (Pubmed CID: 47936); Glutamate (PubChem CID: 33032); Kainic acid (PubChem CID: 10255); Lipopolysaccharide LPS (Pubmed CID: 11970143); Lysergic acid diethylamide LSD (PubChem CID: 5761); Microglia; N-Methyl-d-aspartic acid NMDA (PubChem CID: 22880); Neuroinflammation; Neuron; Para-methoxyamphetamine PMA (PubChem CID: 31721); Prostaglandin E2 PGE2 (PubChem CID: 5280360); Transcription factor; cAMP (PubChem CID: 6076).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-beta / metabolism*
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-delta / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational


  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-beta
  • CCAAT-Enhancer-Binding Protein-delta