CAMP response element binding protein

Not to be confused with Clean Renewable Energy Bonds.

CREB (cAMP response element-binding protein)[1] is a cellular transcription factor. It binds to certain DNA sequences called cAMP response elements (CRE), thereby increasing or decreasing the transcription of the downstream genes.[2] CREB was first described in 1987 as a cAMP-responsive transcription factor regulating the somatostatin gene.[3]

Genes whose transcription is regulated by CREB include: c-fos, the neurotrophin BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor), tyrosine hydroxylase, and many neuropeptides (such as somatostatin, enkephalin, VGF, and corticotropin-releasing hormone).[2]

CREB is closely related in structure and function to CREM (cAMP response element modulator) and ATF-1 (activating transcription factor-1) proteins. CREB proteins are expressed in many animals, including humans. CREB is a transcription factor that has been shown to be integral in the formation of spatial memory. In recent experiments it has been demonstrated that CREB may possess therapeutic potential for patients that have Alzheimer's Disease.[4]

CREB has a well-documented role in neuronal plasticity and long-term memory formation in the brain.[5]


The following genes encode CREB or CREB-like proteins:

  • CREB1)
  • CREB2 renamed ATF4)
  • CREB3)
  • CREB5)
  • CREB3L1 (CREB3L1)
  • CREB3L2 (CREB3L2)
  • CREB3L3 (CREB3L3)
  • CREB3L4 (CREB3L4)

Mechanism of action

A typical (albeit somewhat simplified) sequence of events is as follows: A signal arrives at the cell surface, activates the corresponding receptor, which leads to the production of a second messenger such as cAMP or Ca2+, which in turn activates a protein kinase. This protein kinase translocates to the cell nucleus, where it activates a CREB protein. The activated CREB protein then binds to a CRE region, and is then bound to by a CBP (CREB-binding protein), which coactivates it, allowing it to switch certain genes on or off. The DNA binding of CREB is mediated via its basic leucine zipper domain (bZIP domain) as depicted in the image.


CREB has many functions in many different organs, and some of its functions have been studied in relation to the brain.[6] CREB proteins in neurons are thought to be involved in the formation of long-term memories; this has been shown in the marine snail Aplysia, the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, in rats and in mice (see CREB in Molecular and Cellular Cognition).[7] CREB is necessary for the late stage of long-term potentiation. CREB also has an important role in the development of drug addiction.[8][9][10] There are activator and repressor forms of CREB. Flies genetically engineered to overexpress the inactive form of CREB lose their ability to retain long-term memory. CREB is also important for the survival of neurons, as shown in genetically engineered mice, where CREB and CREM were deleted in the brain. If CREB is lost in the whole developing mouse embryo, the mice die immediately after birth, again highlighting the critical role of CREB in promoting survival.

Disease linkage

Disturbance of CREB function in brain can contribute to the development and progression of Huntington's Disease. Abnormalities of a protein that interacts with the KID domain of CREB, the CREB-binding protein, (CBP) is associated with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome. CREB is also thought to be involved in the growth of some types of cancer.

cAMP response element

The cAMP response element is the response element for CREB. Since the effects of protein kinase A on the synthesis of proteins work by activating CREB, the cAMP response element is responsible for modulating the effects of protein kinase A that work by protein synthesis.

See also

  • CREB in Molecular and Cellular Cognition


External links

  • Johannessen, M., Pedersen Delghandi, M., and Moens, U. (2004) - What Turns CREB onĀ ? - Cell Signall.; 10:1211-1227.
  • Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
  • - The Interactive Fly
  • - The Interactive Fly

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