Neuroglobin overexpression plays a pivotal role in neuroprotection through mitochondrial raft-like microdomains in neuroblastoma SK-N-BE2 cells

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Since stressing conditions induce a relocalization of endogenous human neuroglobin (NGB) to mitochondria, this research is aimed to evaluate the protective role of NGB overexpression against neurotoxic stimuli, through mitochondrial lipid raft-associated complexes. To this purpose, we built a neuronal model of oxidative stress by the use of human dopaminergic neuroblastoma cells, SK-N-BE2, stably overexpressing NGB by transfection and treated with 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium ion (MPP+). We preliminary observed the redistribution of NGB to mitochondria following MPP+ treatment. The analysis of mitochondrial raft-like microdomains revealed that, following MPP+ treatment, NGB translocated to raft fractions (Triton X-100-insoluble), where it interacts with ganglioside GD3. Interestingly, the administration of agents capable of perturbating microdomain before MPP+ treatment, significantly affected viability in SK-N-BE2-NGB cells. The overexpression of NGB was able to abrogate the mitochondrial injuries on complex IV activity or mitochondrial morphology induced by MPP+ administration. The protective action of NGB on mitochondria only takes place if the mitochondrial lipid(s) rafts-like microdomains are intact, indeed NGB fails to protect complex IV activity when purified mitochondria were treated with the lipid rafts disruptor methyl-β-cyclodextrin. Thus, our unique in vitro model of stably transfected cells overexpressing endogenous NGB allowed us to suggest that the role in neuroprotection played by NGB is reliable only through interaction with mitochondrial lipid raft-associated complexes.

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