• Comparing effects of CDK inhibition and E2F1/2 ablation on neuronal cell death pathways in vitro and after traumatic brain injury

      Aubrecht, T.G.; Faden, A.I.; Sabirzhanov, B. (Nature Publishing Group, 2018)
      Traumatic brain injury (TBI) activates multiple neuronal cell death mechanisms, leading to post-traumatic neuronal loss and neurological deficits. TBI-induced cell cycle activation (CCA) in post-mitotic neurons causes regulated cell death involving cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) activation and initiation of an E2F transcription factor-mediated pro-apoptotic program. Here we examine the mechanisms of CCA-dependent neuronal apoptosis in primary neurons in vitro and in mice exposed to controlled cortical impact (CCI). In contrast to our prior work demonstrating robust neuroprotective effects by CDK inhibitors after TBI, examination of neuronal apoptotic mechanisms in E2F1−/−/E2F2−/− or E2F2−/− transgenic mice following CCI suggests that E2F1 and/or E2F2 likely play only a modest role in neuronal cell loss after brain trauma. To elucidate more critical CCA molecular pathways involved in post-traumatic neuronal cell death, we investigated the neuroprotective effects and mechanisms of the potent CDK inhibitor CR8 in a DNA damage model of cell death in primary cortical neurons. CR8 treatment significantly reduced caspase activation and cleavage of caspase substrates, attenuating neuronal cell death. CR8 neuroprotective effects appeared to reflect inhibition of multiple pathways converging on the mitochondrion, including injury-induced elevation of pro-apoptotic Bcl-2 homology region 3 (BH3)-only proteins Puma and Noxa, thereby attenuating mitochondrial permeabilization and release of cytochrome c and AIF, with reduction of both caspase-dependent and -independent apoptosis. CR8 administration also limited injury-induced deficits in mitochondrial respiration. These neuroprotective effects may be explained by CR8-mediated inhibition of key upstream injury responses, including attenuation of c-Jun phosphorylation/activation as well as inhibition of p53 transactivation of BH3-only targets. Copyright 2018, The Author(s).