Corticotropin releasing factor-induced CREB activation in striatal neurons occurs via a novel gβγ signaling pathway

Christopher M. Stern, Jessie I. Luoma, John Meitzen, Paul G. Mermelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The peptide corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) was initially identified as a critical component of the stress response. CRF exerts its cellular effects by binding to one of two cognate G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), CRF receptor 1 (CRFR1) or 2 (CRFR2). While these GPCRs were originally characterized as being coupled to Gαs, leading to downstream activation of adenylyl cyclase (AC) and subsequent increases in cAMP, it has since become clear that CRFRs couple to and activate numerous other downstream signaling cascades. In addition, CRF signaling influences the activity of many diverse brain regions, affecting a variety of behaviors. One of these regions is the striatum, including the nucleus accumbens (NAc). CRF exerts profound effects on striatal-dependent behaviors such as drug addiction, pair-bonding, and natural reward. Recent data indicate that at least some of these behaviors regulated by CRF are mediated through CRF activation of the transcription factor CREB. Thus, we aimed to elucidate the signaling pathway by which CRF activates CREB in striatal neurons. Here we describe a novel neuronal signaling pathway whereby CRF leads to a rapid Gβγ- and MEK-dependent increase in CREB phosphorylation. These data are the first descriptions of CRF leading to activation of a Gβγ-dependent signaling pathway in neurons, as well as the first description of Gβγ activation leading to downstream CREB phosphorylation in any cellular system. Additionally, these data provide additional insight into the mechanisms by which CRF can regulate neuronal function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere18114
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2011


Dive into the research topics of 'Corticotropin releasing factor-induced CREB activation in striatal neurons occurs via a novel gβγ signaling pathway'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this