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Mol Cell Proteomics. 2012 Jan;11(1):M111.009530. doi: 10.1074/mcp.M111.009530. Epub 2011 Oct 5.

Brainstem deficiency of the 14-3-3 regulator of serotonin synthesis: a proteomics analysis in the sudden infant death syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


Impaired brainstem responses to homeostatic challenges during sleep may result in the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Previously we reported a deficiency of serotonin (5-HT) and its key biosynthetic enzyme, tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH2), in SIDS infants in the medullary 5-HT system that modulates homeostatic responses during sleep. Yet, the underlying basis of the TPH2 and 5-HT deficiency is unknown. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that proteomics would uncover previously unrecognized abnormal levels of proteins related to TPH2 and 5-HT regulation in SIDS cases compared with controls, which could provide novel insight into the basis of their deficiency. We first performed a discovery proteomic analysis of the gigantocellularis of the medullary 5-HT system in the same data set with deficiencies of TPH2 and 5-HT levels. Analysis in 6 SIDS cases and 4 controls revealed a 42-75% reduction in abundance in 5 of the 6 isoforms identified of the 14-3-3 signal transduction family, which is known to influence TPH2 activity (p < 0.07). These findings were corroborated in an additional SIDS and control sample using an orthogonal MS(E)-based quantitative proteomic strategy. To confirm these proteomics results in a larger data set (38 SIDS, 11 controls), we applied Western blot analysis in the gigantocellularis and found that 4/7 14-3-3 isoforms identified were significantly reduced in SIDS cases (p ≤ 0.02), with a 43% reduction in all 14-3-3 isoforms combined (p < 0.001). Abnormalities in 5-HT and TPH2 levels and 5-HT(1A) receptor binding were associated with the 14-3-3 deficits in the same SIDS cases. These data suggest a potential molecular defect in SIDS related to TPH2 regulation, as 14-3-3 is critical in this process.

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