Co-regulation of survival of motor neuron and Bcl-xL expression: Implications for neuroprotection in spinal muscular atrophy
Anderton, R.S., Price, L.L., Turner, B.J., Meloni, B.P., Mitrpant, C., Mastaglia, F.L., Goh, C., Wilton, S.D. and Boulos, S. (2012) Co-regulation of survival of motor neuron and Bcl-xL expression: Implications for neuroprotection in spinal muscular atrophy. Neuroscience, 220 . pp. 228-236.
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Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a fatal genetic motor disorder of infants, is caused by diminished full-length survival of motor neuron (SMN) protein levels. Normally involved in small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (snRNP) assembly and pre-mRNA splicing, recent studies suggest that SMN plays a critical role in regulating apoptosis. Interestingly, the anti-apoptotic Bcl-x isoform, Bcl-xL, is reduced in SMA. In a related finding, Sam68, an RNA-binding protein, was found to modulate splicing of SMN and Bcl-xL transcripts, promoting SMNΔ7 and pro-apoptotic Bcl-xS transcripts. Here we demonstrate that Bcl-xL expression increases SMN protein by ∼2-fold in SH-SY5Y cells. Conversely, SMN expression increases Bcl-xL protein levels by ∼6-fold in SH-SY5Y cells, and ∼2.5-fold in the brains of transgenic mice over-expressing SMN (PrP-SMN). Moreover, Sam68 protein levels were markedly reduced following SMN and Bcl-xL expression in SH-SY5Y cells, suggesting a feedback mechanism co-regulating levels of both proteins. We also found that exogenous SMN expression increased full-length SMN transcripts, possibly by promoting exon 7 inclusion. Finally, co-expression of SMN and Bcl-xL produced an additive anti-apoptotic effect following PI3-kinase inhibition in SH-SY5Y cells. Our findings implicate Bcl-xL as another potential target in SMA therapeutics, and indicate that therapeutic increases in SMN may arise from modest increases in total SMN.
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