The JNK inhibitor D-JNKI-1 blocks apoptotic JNK signaling in brain mitochondria


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Abstract

Kainic acid (KA) induced seizures provokes an extensive neuronal degeneration initiated by c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK) as central mediators of excitotoxicity. However, the actions of their individual isoforms in cellular organelles including mitochondria remain to be elucidated. Here, we have studied the activation of JNK1, JNK2 and JNK3 and their activators, mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MKK) 4/7, in brain mitochondria, cytosolic and nuclear fractions after KA seizures. In the mitochondrial fraction, KA significantly increased the presence of JNK1, JNK3 and MKK4 and stimulated their phosphorylation i.e. activation. The pro-apoptotic proteins, Bim and Bax were induced and, consequently, the ratio Bcl-2-Bax decreased. These changes were paralleled by the release of cytochrome c and cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose)-polymerase (PARP).The JNK peptide inhibitor, D-JNKI-1 (XG-102) reversed these pathological events in the mitochondria and almost completely abolished cytochrome c release and PARP cleavage. Importantly, JNK3, but not JNK1 or JNK2, was associated with Bim in mitochondria and D-JNKI-1 prevented the formation of this apoptotic complex.Apart from of the attenuation of c-Jun phosphorylation in the nucleus, D-JNKI-1 did not affect the level of JNK3 isoform in the nuclear and cytosolic fractions. These findings provide novel insights into the mode of action of individual JNK isoforms in cell organelles and points to the JNK3 pool in mitochondria as a target of the JNK inhibitor D-JNKI-1 to confer neuroprotection.

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