Glucocorticoid regulates TrkB protein levels via c-Cbl dependent ubiquitination: A decrease in c-Cbl mRNA in the prefrontal cortex of suicide subjects

Chirayu Pandya, Ammar Kutiyanawalla, Gustavo Turecki, Anilkumar Pillai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signaling through its receptor TrkB plays a crucial role in neurodevelopment and plasticity. Stress and glucocorticoids have been shown to alter TrkB signaling in neurons, and defects in TrkB expression have been reported in the prefrontal cortex of suicide subjects. Glucocorticoid treatment has been shown to induce deleterious effects on the neuronal maturation. However, the mechanisms involved in the regulation of TrkB by glucocorticoid during neurodevelopment are not clear. Here we show that acute corticosterone exposure induced posttranslational upregulation of TrkB in primary cortical neurons (days in vitro 4, DIV4), which was blocked by the proteasome inhibitors. Acute corticosterone-induced increase in TrkB protein levels was dependent on glucocorticoid receptor (GR). At the cellular level, ubiquitin E3 ligase c-Cbl mediates TrkB stabilization and corticosterone-induced TrkB levels. Moreover, the tyrosine kinase binding domain in c-Cbl plays a critical role in corticosterone-induced TrkB levels. Chronic treatment of neurons with corticosterone induced significant decreases in both TrkB and c-Cbl protein levels. Acute corticosterone treatment failed to induce any significant change in TrkB and c-Cbl protein levels in mature neurons (DIV 12), where as chronic corticosterone exposure reduced TrkB levels. Under an in vivo condition, chronic corticosterone exposure induced down-regulation of c-Cbl in mouse frontal cortex and hippocampus. Importantly, we demonstrate for the first time a significant decrease in c-Cbl mRNA levels in the prefrontal cortex of suicide subjects indicating the possible role of c-Cbl in the pathophysiology of suicidal behavior. Thus, ubiquitin-proteasome-mediated TrkB regulation may be an important mechanism for improving BDNF signaling and maintaining neuroplasticity in stress-related neuropsychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-118
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by grant from NIH/NIMH , MH087857 to A.P.


  • C-Cbl
  • Glucocorticoid
  • Neurons
  • Suicide
  • TrkB
  • Ubiquitination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Glucocorticoid regulates TrkB protein levels via c-Cbl dependent ubiquitination: A decrease in c-Cbl mRNA in the prefrontal cortex of suicide subjects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this