The role of parkin in the differential susceptibility of tuberoinfundibular and nigrostriatal dopamine neurons to acute toxicant exposure

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Abstract

Parkinson disease causes degeneration of nigrostriatal dopamine (DA) neurons, while tuberoinfundibular DA neurons remain unaffected. A similar pattern is observed following exposure to 1-methy-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyradine (MPTP). The mechanism of tuberoinfundibular neuronal recovery from MPTP is associated with up-regulation of parkin protein. Here we tested if parkin mediates tuberoinfundibular neuronal recovery from MPTP by knocking-down parkin in tuberoinfundibular neurons using recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV), expressing a short hairpin RNA (shRNA) directed toward parkin. Following knockdown, axon terminal DA and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) concentrations were analyzed 24 h post-MPTP administration. rAAV-shRNA-mediated knockdown of endogenous parkin rendered tuberoinfundibular neurons susceptible to MPTP induced terminal DA loss, but not TH loss, within 24 h post-MPTP. To determine if the neuroprotective benefits of parkin up-regulation could be translated to nigrostriatal neurons, rAAV expressing human parkin was injected into the substantia nigra of mice and axon terminal DA and TH concentrations were analyzed 24 h post-MPTP. Nigral parkin over-expression prevented loss of TH in the axon terminals and soma of nigrostriatal neurons, but had no effect on terminal DA loss within 24 h post-MPTP. These data show that parkin is necessary for the recovery of terminal DA concentrations within tuberoinfundibular neurons following acute MPTP administration, and parkin can rescue MPTP-induced decreases in TH within nigrostriatal neurons.

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