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Neuroscience. 2001;107(2):339-52.

Inhibitors of trypsin-like serine proteases prevent DNA damage-induced neuronal death by acting upstream of the mitochondrial checkpoint and of p53 induction.

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Department of Neurology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


We have previously shown that the pharmacological agents 4-(2-aminoethyl)=benzenesulfonylfluoride hydrochloride (AEBSF) and Na-p-tosyl-L-lysine chloromethylketone (TLCK), inhibitors of trypsin-like serine proteases, prevent the death of trophic factor-deprived PC12 cells and sympathetic neurons. Both AEBSF and TLCK inhibit caspase activation in this model, but it is unclear whether they do so indirectly or through a direct effect at the level of the caspases. In the current study, we have used these agents in another model of neuronal death that is induced by DNA damage. We find that both agents delay the death of DNA-damaged PC12 cells, neonatal rat sympathetic neurons and embryonic rat cortical neurons. As in the trophic deprivation model, they act upstream of the caspases. In addition, they prevent mitochondrial alterations, such as cytochrome c release or loss of transmembrane potential. In contrast, the general caspase inhibitor bok-asp-fmk does not prevent cytochrome c release and has only a partial and transient effect on loss of transmembrane potential. Interestingly, both AEBSF and TLCK prevent the induction and nuclear accumulation of p53 that is induced by DNA damage in cortical neurons. Therefore, these serine protease inhibitors act at a point upstream in the apoptotic pathway, prior to p53 induction and the mitochondrial checkpoint, to delay neuronal death in this model, and do not act at the level of the caspases. We conclude that therapeutic strategies based on serine protease inhibition may be useful in preventing neuronal cell death.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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