p53 is present in synapses where it mediates mitochondrial dysfunction and synaptic degeneration in response to DNA damage, and oxidative and excitotoxic insults

Charles P. Gilman, Sic L. Chan, Zhihong Guo, Xiaoxiang Zhu, Nigel Greig, Mark P. Mattson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

A form of programmed cell-death called apoptosis occurs in neurons during development of the nervous system, and may also occur in a variety of neuropathological conditions. Here we present evidence obtained in studies of adult mice and neuronal cell cultures showing that p53 protein is present in synapses where its level and amount of phosphorylation are increased following exposure of the cells to the DNA-damaging agent etoposide. We also show that levels of active p53 increase in isolated cortical synaptosomes exposed to oxidative and excitotoxic insults. Increased levels of p53 also precede loss of synapsin I immunoreactive terminals in cultured hippocampal neurons exposed to etoposide. Synaptosomes from p53-deficient mice exhibit increased resistance to oxidative and excitotoxic insults as indicated by stabilization of mitochondrial membrane potential and decreased production of reactive oxygen species. Finally, we show that a synthetic inhibitor of p53 (PFT-α) protects synaptosomes from wild-type mice against oxidative and excitotoxic injuries, and preserves presynaptic terminals in cultured hippocampal neurons exposed to etoposide. Collectively, these findings provide the first evidence for a local transcription-independent action of p53 in synapses, and suggest that such a local action of p53 may contribute to the dysfunction and degeneration of synapses that occurs in various neurodegenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-172
Number of pages14
JournalNeuroMolecular Medicine
Volume3
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Apoptosis
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Synaptosomes
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology

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