c-Abl Tyrosine Kinase Mediates Neurotoxic Prion Peptide-Induced Neuronal Apoptosis via Regulating Mitochondrial Homeostasis
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- Pan, B., Yang, L., Wang, J. et al. Mol Neurobiol (2014) 49: 1102. doi:10.1007/s12035-014-8646-4
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Prion diseases are neurodegenerative disorders characterized by the accumulation of a disease-associated prion protein and apoptotic neuronal death. Previous studies indicated that the ubiquitous expression of c-Abl tyrosine kinase transduces a variety of extrinsic and intrinsic cellular signals. In this study, we demonstrated that a synthetic neurotoxic prion fragment (PrP106-126) activated c-Abl tyrosine kinase, which in turn triggered the upregulation of MST1 and BIM, suggesting the activation of the c-Abl-BIM signaling pathway. The peptide fragment was found to result in cell death via mitochondrial dysfunction in neuron cultures. Knockdown of c-Abl using small interfering RNA protected neuronal cells from PrP106-126-induced mitochondrial dysfunction, production of reactive oxygen species, and apoptotic events inducing translocation of Bax to the mitochondria, cytochrome c release into the cytosol, and activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3. Blocking the c-Abl tyrosine kinase also prevented neuronal cells from PrP106-126-induced apoptotic morphological changes. This is the first study reporting that c-Abl tyrosine kinase as a novel upstream activator of MST1 and BIM plays an important role in prion-induced neuron apoptosis via mitochondrial dysfunction. Our findings suggest that c-Abl tyrosine kinase is a potential therapeutic target for prion disease.