Transducin-like enhancer of split-1 (TLE1) plays a critical role in the regulation of neurogenesis by inhibiting the differentiation of neural progenitor cells into neurons. Although TLE1 is also expressed highly in the postnatal brain and through adulthood, its role in postmitotic neurons is not clear. Using cultures of cerebellar granule neurons, we show that expression of TLE1 is reduced in neurons primed to die. Reestablishment of elevated TLE1 levels by ectopic expression protects neurons from death, whereas suppression of TLE1 expression in otherwise healthy neurons induces cell death. These results show that TLE1 is necessary for the maintenance of neuronal survival. Experiments using pharmacological inhibitors as well as expression of point mutants indicate that phosphorylation of TLE1 by casein kinase-2 (CK2) at Ser-239 and Ser-253 is necessary for its survival-promoting activity. TLE1-mediated survival is also inhibited by pharmacological inhibition of PI3K-Akt signaling but not by inhibitors of Raf-MEK-ERK signaling or other molecules, including histone deacetylases, calcium calmodulin kinase, or CK1. The survival-promoting activity of TLE1 depends critically on interaction with FoxG1, another protein involved in the regulation of neurogenesis and shown previously to promote survival of postmitotic neurons. Likewise, the ability of FoxG1 to promote neuronal survival depends on TLE1. Taken together, our study demonstrates that TLE1 cooperates with FoxG1 to promote neuronal survival in a CK2- and PI3K-Akt-dependent manner.
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