Nuclear translocation of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) determines cell fate after hypoxia ischemia in neonatal brain

Juliet C. Russell, Heather Whiting, Nicholas Szuflita, Mir Ahamed Hossain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The inhibitors of apoptosis (IAPs) are emerging as key proteins in the control of cell death. In this study, we evaluated the expression and subcellular distribution of the antiapoptotic protein X-linked IAP (XIAP), and its interactions with the XIAP-associated factor 1 (XAF1) in neonatal rat brain following hypoxia-ischemia (HI). HI triggered the mitochondrial release of cytochrome c, Smac/DIABLO, and caspase 3 activation. Confocal microscopy detected XIAP-specific immunofluorescence in the cytoplasm under normal condition, which exhibited a diffuse distribution at 6 h post-HI and by 12 h the majority of XIAP was redistributed into the nucleus. XIAP nuclear translocation was confirmed by subcellular fractionations and by expressing FLAG-tagged XIAP in primary cortical neurons. Over-expression of XIAP significantly reduced, whereas XIAP gene silencing further enhanced cell death, demonstrating a specific requirement of cytoplasmic XIAP for cell survival. An elevated level of cytosolic XIAP was also evident under the conditions of neuroprotection by fibroblast growth factor-1. XAF1 expression was increased temporally and there was increased nuclear co-localization with XIAP in hypoxic-ischemic cells. XIAP co-immunoprecipitated > 9-fold XAF1 protein concurrent with decreased association with caspases 9 and 3. This is evidenced by the enhanced caspase 3 activity and neuronal death. Our findings implicate XIAP nuclear translocation in neuronal death and point to a novel mechanism in the regulation of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1357-1370
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Apoptosis
  • Caspase
  • Cytochrome c
  • Fibroblast growth factor-1
  • Hypoxic-ischemic brain injury
  • Neuroprotection
  • Smac/DIABLO
  • X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis
  • XIAP-associated factor 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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