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Activation of transcription factor MEF2D by bis(3)-cognitin protects dopaminergic neurons and ameliorates Parkinsonian motor deficits

Activation of transcription factor MEF2D by bis(3)-cognitin protects dopaminergic neurons and ameliorates Parkinsonian motor defects
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The Journal of Biological Chemistry Volume 287 Issue 41

05 October 2012
Yao L, Li W, She H, Dou J, Jia L, He Y, Yang Q, Capiro NL, Walker D, Pennell KD, Pang Y, Liu Y, Han Y, Mao Z


Parkinson disease (PD) is characterized by the selective demise of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantial nigra pars compacta (SNc).

Dysregulation of transcriptional factor myocyte enhancer factor 2D (MEF2D) has been implicated in the pathogenic process in in vivo and in vitro models of PD. Here, we identified a small molecule bis(3)-cognitin (B3C) as a potent activator of MEF2D.

We showed that B3C attenuated the toxic effects of neurotoxin 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium (MPP+) by activating MEF2D via multiple mechanisms. B3C significantly reduced MPP+-induced oxidative stress and potentiated Akt to down-regulate the activity of MEF2 inhibitor GSK3β in a DA neuronal cell line SN4741. Furthermore, B3C effectively rescued MEF2D from MPP+-induced decline in both nucleic and mitochondrial compartments. B3C offered SN4741 cells potent protection against MPP+-induced apoptosis via MEF2D.

Interestingly, B3C also protected SN4741 cells from wild type or mutant A53T α-synuclein-induced cytotoxicity. Using the in vivo PD model of C57BL/6 mice treated with 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1, 2, 3, 6-tetrahydropyridine hydrochloride (MPTP), we showed that B3C maintained redox homeostasis, promoted Akt function activity, and restored MEF2D level in midbrain neurons. Moreover, B3C greatly prevented the loss of tyrosine hydroxylase signal in SNc DA neurons and ameliorated behavioral impairments in mice treated with MPTP.

Collectedly, our studies identified B3C as a potent neuroprotective agent whose effectiveness relies on its ability to effectively up-regulate MEF2D in DA neurons against toxic stress in models of PD in vitro and in vivo.