Global ischemia arising during cardiac arrest or cardiac surgery causes highly selective, delayed death of hippocampal CA1 neurons. Exogenous estradiol ameliorates global ischemia-induced neuronal death and cognitive impairment in male and female rodents. However, the molecular mechanisms by which a single acute injection of estradiol administered after the ischemic event intervenes in global ischemia-induced apoptotic cell death are unclear. Here we show that acute estradiol acts via the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (Akt) signaling cascade to protect CA1 neurons in ovariectomized female rats. We demonstrate that global ischemia promotes early activation of glycogen synthase kinase-3beta (GSK3beta) and forkhead transcription factor of the O class (FOXO)3A, known Akt targets that are related to cell survival, and activation of caspase-3. Estradiol prevents ischemia-induced dephosphorylation and activation of GSK3beta and FOXO3A, and the caspase death cascade. These findings support a model whereby estradiol acts by activation of PI3K/Akt signaling to promote neuronal survival in the face of global ischemia.
Fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited mental retardation and leading genetic cause of autism, is caused by transcriptional silencing of the Fmr1 gene. The fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), the gene product of Fmr1, is an RNA binding protein that negatively regulates translation in neurons. The Fmr1 knock-out mouse, a model of fragile X syndrome, exhibits cognitive deficits and exaggerated metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)-dependent long-term depression at CA1 synapses. However, the molecular mechanisms that link loss of function of FMRP to aberrant synaptic plasticity remain unclear. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling cascade controls initiation of cap-dependent translation and is under control of mGluRs. Here we show that mTOR phosphorylation and activity are elevated in hippocampus of juvenile Fmr1 knock-out mice by four functional readouts: (1) association of mTOR with regulatory associated protein of mTOR; (2) mTOR kinase activity; (3) phosphorylation of mTOR downstream targets S6 kinase and 4E-binding protein; and (4) formation of eukaryotic initiation factor complex 4F, a critical first step in cap-dependent translation. Consistent with this, mGluR long-term depression at CA1 synapses of FMRP-deficient mice is exaggerated and rapamycin insensitive. We further show that the p110 subunit of the upstream kinase phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and its upstream activator PI3K enhancer PIKE, predicted targets of FMRP, are upregulated in knock-out mice. Elevated mTOR signaling may provide a functional link between overactivation of group I mGluRs and aberrant synaptic plasticity in the fragile X mouse, mechanisms relevant to impaired cognition in fragile X syndrome.
Dysregulation of Akt signaling is important in a broad range of diseases that includes cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The role of Akt signaling in brain disorders is less clear. We found that global ischemia in intact rats triggered expression and activation of the Akt inhibitor CTMP (carboxyl-terminal modulator protein) in vulnerable hippocampal neurons and that CTMP bound and extinguished Akt activity and was essential to ischemia-induced neuronal death. Although ischemia induced a marked phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of Akt, phosphorylated Akt was not active in post-ischemic neurons, as assessed by kinase assays and phosphorylation of the downstream targets GSK-3beta and FOXO3A. RNA interference-mediated depletion of CTMP in a clinically relevant model of stroke restored Akt activity and rescued hippocampal neurons. Our results indicate that CTMP is important in the neurodegeneration that is associated with stroke and identify CTMP as a therapeutic target for the amelioration of hippocampal injury and cognitive deficits.
Dysregulation of the transcriptional repressor element-1 silencing transcription factor (REST)/neuron-restrictive silencer factor is important in a broad range of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The role of REST-dependent epigenetic modifications in neurodegeneration is less clear. Here, we show that neuronal insults trigger activation of REST and CoREST in a clinically relevant model of ischemic stroke and that REST binds a subset of "transcriptionally responsive" genes (gria2, grin1, chrnb2, nefh, nf?b2, trpv1, chrm4, and syt6), of which the AMPA receptor subunit GluA2 is a top hit. Genes with enriched REST exhibited decreased mRNA and protein. We further show that REST assembles with CoREST, mSin3A, histone deacetylases 1 and 2, histone methyl-transferase G9a, and methyl CpG binding protein 2 at the promoters of target genes, where it orchestrates epigenetic remodeling and gene silencing. RNAi-mediated depletion of REST or administration of dominant-negative REST delivered directly into the hippocampus in vivo prevents epigenetic modifications, restores gene expression, and rescues hippocampal neurons. These findings document a causal role for REST-dependent epigenetic remodeling in the neurodegeneration associated with ischemic stroke and identify unique therapeutic targets for the amelioration of hippocampal injury and cognitive deficits.
Transient global ischemia in rats induces delayed death of hippocampal CA1 neurons. Early events include caspase activation, cleavage of anti-death Bcl-2 family proteins and large mitochondrial channel activity. However, whether these events have a causal role in ischemia-induced neuronal death is unclear. We found that the Bcl-2 and Bcl-x(L) inhibitor ABT-737, which enhances death of tumor cells, protected rats against neuronal death in a clinically relevant model of brain ischemia. Bcl-x(L) is prominently expressed in adult neurons and can be cleaved by caspases to generate a pro-death fragment, ?N-Bcl-x(L). We found that ABT-737 administered before or after ischemia inhibited ?N-Bcl-x(L)-induced mitochondrial channel activity and neuronal death. To establish a causal role for ?N-Bcl-x(L), we generated knock-in mice expressing a caspase-resistant form of Bcl-x(L). The knock-in mice exhibited markedly reduced mitochondrial channel activity and reduced vulnerability to ischemia-induced neuronal death. These findings suggest that truncated Bcl-x(L) could be a potentially important therapeutic target in ischemic brain injury.
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