The lasting effects of neuronal activity on brain development involve calcium-dependent gene expression. Using a strategy called transactivator trap, we cloned a calcium-responsive transactivator called CREST (for calcium-responsive transactivator). CREST is a SYT-related nuclear protein that interacts with adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cAMP) response element-binding protein (CREB)-binding protein (CBP) and is expressed in the developing brain. Mice that have a targeted disruption of the crest gene are viable but display defects in cortical and hippocampal dendrite development. Cortical neurons from crest mutant mice are compromised in calcium-dependent dendritic growth. Thus, calcium activation of CREST-mediated transcription helps regulate neuronal morphogenesis.
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