Growth arrest-specific (gas) genes are expressed preferentially in cells that enter a quiescent state. gas7, which we identified in serum-starved murine fibroblasts, is reported here to be expressed in vivo selectively in neuronal cells of the mature cerebral cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum. gas7 transcripts encode a 48-kDa protein containing a structural domain that resembles sequences of OCT2, a POU transcription factor implicated in neuronal development, and synapsins, which have a role in modulating neurotransmitter release. Using in situ hybridization and immunocytochemical analysis, we show that GAS7 expression occurs prominently in cerebellar Purkinje cells and that inhibition of production in terminally differentiating cultures of embryonic murine cerebellum impedes neurite outgrowth from maturing Purkinje cells. Conversely, GAS7 overexpression in undifferentiated neuroblastoma cell cultures dramatically promotes neurite-like outgrowth. Collectively, our results provide evidence for an association between expression of this gas gene and neuronal development
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