Cerebral hypoxia-ischemia (HI) compromises the proteasome in a clinically relevant neonatal piglet model. Protecting and activating proteasomes could be an adjunct therapy to hypothermia. We investigated whether chymotrypsin-like proteasome activity differs regionally and developmentally in the neonatal brain. We also tested whether neonatal brain proteasomes can be modulated by oleuropein, an experimental pleiotropic neuroprotective drug, or by targeting a proteasome subunit gene using recombinant adeno-associated virus-9 (AAV). During post-HI hypothermia, we treated piglets with oleuropein, used AAV-short hairpin RNA (shRNA) to knock down proteasome activator 28γ (PA28γ), or enforced PA28γ using AAV-PA28γ with green fluorescent protein (GFP). Neonatal neocortex and subcortical white matter had greater proteasome activity than did liver and kidney. Neonatal white matter had higher proteasome activity than did juvenile white matter. Lower arterial pH 1 h after HI correlated with greater subsequent cortical proteasome activity. With increasing brain homogenate protein input into the assay, the initial proteasome activity increased only among shams, whereas HI increased total kinetic proteasome activity. OLE increased the initial neocortical proteasome activity after hypothermia. AAV drove GFP expression, and white matter PA28γ levels correlated with proteasome activity and subunit levels. However, AAV proteasome modulation varied. Thus, neonatal neocortical proteasomes can be pharmacologically activated. HI slows the initial proteasome performance, but then augments ongoing catalytic activity. AAV-mediated genetic manipulation in the piglet brain holds promise, though proteasome gene targeting requires further development.
- Adeno-associated virus
- Conditional gene manipulation
- Neonatal brain damage
- White matter injury
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