Increased expression of the homologue of enhancer-of-split 1 protects neurons from beta amyloid neurotoxicity and hints at an alternative role for transforming growth factor beta1 as a neuroprotector
Centro Andaluz de Biología Molecular y Medicina Regenerativa (CABIMER), Americo Vespucio s/n, Isla de la Cartuja, 41092 Seville, Spain
Alzheimer's Research & Therapy 2012, 4:31 doi:10.1186/alzrt134Published: 31 July 2012
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the deposition of β-amyloid (Aβ) in the brain, which produces progressive neuronal loss and dementia. We recently demonstrated that the noxious effects of Aβ on cultured hippocampal neurons are in part provoked by the antagonism of nerve growth factor (NGF) signalling, which impairs the activation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) by impeding the tyrosine phosphorylation of I-κBα. As a result, the expression of the homologue of Enhancer-of split 1 (Hes1) gene is downregulated and ultimately, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic connectivity is lost.
Hes1 activity was promoted in cultured hippocampal neurons by overexpressing a Hes1-encoding plasmid or by upregulating this gene by activating NF-κB through different approaches (overexpressing either the I-κB kinaseβ, or p65/RelA/NF-κB). Alternatively neurons were exposed to TGFβ1. Dendrite patterning, GABAergic connectivity and cell survival were analyzed by immunofluorescence microscopy. Hes1 expression was determined by real-time PCR. NF-κB activation was measured using the dual-luciferase reporter assay.
The expression of Hes1 abolished the effects of Aβ on dendritic patterning and GABAergic input, and it prevented the death of the cultured neurons. TGFβ1, a known neuroprotector, could counteract the deleterious effects of Aβ by inducing NF-κB activation following the serine phosphorylation of I-κBα. Indeed, the number of GABAergic terminals generated by inducing Hes1 expression was doubled.
Our data define some of the mechanisms involved in Aβ-mediated cell death and they point to potential means to counteract this noxious activity.