Author(s): Thompson AF, Levin LA. Neuronal differentiation by analogs of staurosporine. Neurochem Int. 2010 Mar;56(4):554-60. doi: 10.1016/j.neuint.2009.12.018. Epub 2010 Jan 4. PMID 20043966
Journal: Neurochemistry International, Volume 56, Issue 4, Mar 2010
RGC-5 cells are transformed cells that express several surface markers characteristic of neuronal precursor cells, but resemble glial cells morphologically and divide in culture. When treated with the apoptosis-inducing agent staurosporine, RGC-5 cells assume a neuronal morphology, extend neurites, stop dividing, and express ion channels without acute signs of apoptosis. This differentiation with staurosporine is similar to what has been described for certain other neuronal cell lines, and occurs by a mechanism not yet understood. Inhibition of several kinases known to be inhibited by staurosporine fails to differentiate RGC-5 cells, and examination of the kinome associated with staurosporine-dependent differentiation has been unhelpful so far. To better understand the mechanism of staurosporine-mediated differentiation of neuronal precursor cells, we studied the effects of the following structurally similar molecules on differentiation of neuronal and non-neuronal cell lines, comparing them to staurosporine: 9,12-epoxy-1H-diindolo[1,2,3-fg:3′,2′,1′-kl]pyrrolo[3,4-i][1,6]benzodiazocine-10-carboxylic acid, 2,3,9,10,11,12-hexahydro-10-hydroxy-9-methyl-1-oxo-, methyl ester, (9S,10R,12R)-(K252a), (5R,6S,8S)-6-hydroxy-5-methyl-13-oxo-6,7,8,13,14,15-hexahydro-5H-16-oxa-4b,8a,14-triaza-5,8-methanodibenzo[b,h]cycloocta[jkl]cyclopenta[e]-as-indacene-6-carboxylic acid (K252b), staurosporine aglycone (K252c), 7-hydroxystaurosporine (UCN-01), and 4′-N-benzoylstaurosporine (PKC-412). Morphological differentiation, indicated by neurite extension and somal rounding, was quantitatively assessed with NeuronJ. We found that the critical structural component for differentiation in RGC-5 cells is a basic amine adjacent to an accessible methoxy group at the 3′ carbon. Given that UCN-01 and similar compounds are potent anti-cancer drugs, examination of molecules that share similar structural features may yield insights into the design of other drugs for differentiation.