The Journal of cell biology

A novel role for Gab2 in bFGF-mediated cell survival during retinoic acid-induced neuronal differentiation.

PMID 16009726


Gab proteins amplify and integrate signals stimulated by many growth factors. In culture and animals, retinoic acid (RA) induces neuronal differentiation. We show that Gab2 expression is detected in neurons in three models of neuronal differentiation: embryonic carcinoma (EC) stem cells, embryonic stem cells, and primary neural stem cells (NSCs). RA treatment induces apoptosis, countered by basic FGF (bFGF). In EC cells, Gab2 silencing results in hypersensitivity to RA-induced apoptosis and abrogates the protection by bFGF. Gab2 suppression reduces bFGF-dependent activation of AKT but not ERK, and constitutively active AKT, but not constitutively active MEK1, reverses the hypersensitization. Thus, Gab2-mediated AKT activation is required for bFGF's protection. Moreover, Gab2 silencing impairs the differentiation of EC cells to neurons. Similarly, in NSCs, Gab2 suppression reduces bFGF-dependent proliferation as well as neuronal survival and production upon differentiation. Our findings provide the first evidence that Gab2 is an important player in neural differentiation, partly by acting downstream of bFGF to mediate survival through phosphoinositide 3 kinase-AKT.