A greater understanding of the mechanisms that promote the survival and growth of dopaminergic neurons is essential for the advancement of cell replacement therapies for Parkinson’s disease (PD). Evidence supports a role for the mitogen-activated protein kinase p38 in the demise of dopaminergic neurons, while mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphatase-1 (MKP-1), which negatively regulates p38 activity, has not yet been investigated in this context. Here, we show that MKP-1 is expressed in dopaminergic neurons cultured from E14 rat ventral mesencephalon (VM). When dopaminergic neurons were transfected to overexpress MKP-1, they displayed a more complex morphology than their control counterparts in vitro. Specifically, MKP-1-transfection induced significant increases in neurite length and branching with a maximum increase observed in primary branches. We demonstrate that inhibition of dopaminergic neurite growth induced by treatment of rat VM neurons with the dopaminergic neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) in vitro is mediated by p38 and is concomitant with a significant and selective decrease in MKP-1 expression in these neurons. We further show that overexpression of MKP-1 in dopaminergic neurons contributes to neuroprotection against the effects of 6-OHDA. Collectively, we report that MKP-1 can promote the growth and elaboration of dopaminergic neuronal processes and can help protect them from the neurotoxic effects of 6-OHDA. Thus, we propose that strategies aimed at augmenting MKP-1 expression or activity may be beneficial in protecting dopaminergic neurons and may provide potential therapeutic approaches for PD.
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The authors would like to thank Ms Aisling Gavin for kindly providing us with tissue. This work was supported by the College of Medicine and Health, University College Cork, Science Foundation Ireland Grant No. SFI/RFP/NSC1298 (YN), Science Foundation Ireland Grant No. 10/RFP/NES2786 (GO’K), and the Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology.
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The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.
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Collins, L.M., O’Keeffe, G.W., Long-Smith, C.M. et al. Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Phosphatase (MKP)-1 as a Neuroprotective Agent: Promotion of the Morphological Development of Midbrain Dopaminergic Neurons. Neuromol Med 15, 435–446 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12017-013-8230-5
- Dopaminergic neuron