Rapid subcellular redistribution of bax precedes caspase-3 and endonuclease activation during excitotoxic neuronal apoptosis in rat brain

Josephine Lok, Lee J. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Neuronal apoptosis is induced prominently in the newborn rodent brain by glutamate receptor excitotoxicity and related insults, including trauma and hypoxia-ischemia. However, the molecular mechanisms of this neurodegeneration are unclear. We tested the hypothesis that changes in the subcellular distribution of the proapoptotic protein Bax precede the activation of downstream apoptosis-effector mechanisms such as caspase-3 cleavage and endonuclease activation during the progression of excitotoxic neuronal apoptosis in the striatum of newborn rat. Kainic acid (4 nmol) was injected into striatum of anesthetized 7-day-old rats, and the animals were killed at 2, 6, 12, and 24 h postinsult. Controls were age-matched, vehicle-injected, or naive rats. Counts of ultrastructurally confirmed striatal neuron apoptosis in brain sections were highest at 24 h. Striatal tissue was microdissected and fractionated into cytosolic, mitochondrial-, and nuclear-enriched compartments. Immunoblots showed that Bax translocates from the cytosol fraction to the mitochondrial fraction, with maximal translocation by 2 h in the absence of changes in mitochondrial accumulation. Cleaved caspase-3 levels increase progressively in both cytosolic and mitochondrial fractions between 6 and 24 h. Cleaved caspase-3 accumulates in apoptotic striatal neurons as shown by immunolocalization. Internucleosomal fragmentation of DNA coincides with caspase-3 cleavage. We conclude that rapid translocation of Bax to mitochondria precedes caspase-3 and endonuclease activation during excitotoxic neuronal apoptosis in newborn rat brain and that initiation of this death cascade occurs within 2 h after glutamate receptor activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-828
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of neurotrauma
Volume19
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

Keywords

  • Brain trauma
  • Glutamate receptor
  • Mitochondria
  • Neonatal brain injury
  • Neuronal cell death

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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