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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Dec 24;99(26):17107-12. Epub 2002 Dec 10.

Protection against ischemic brain injury by protein therapeutics.

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Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Institute of Gerontology, Nippon Medical School, Kawasaki-city, Kanagawa 211-8533, Japan.


Preventing massive cell death is an important therapeutic strategy for various injuries and disorders. Protein therapeutics have the advantage of delivering proteins in a short period. We have engineered the antiapoptotic bcl-x gene to generate the super antiapoptotic factor, FNK, with a more powerful cytoprotective activity. In this study, we fused the protein transduction domain (PTD) of the HIVTat protein to FNK and used the construct in an animal model of ischemic brain injury. When added into culture media of human neuroblastoma cells and rat neocortical neurons, PTD-FNK rapidly transduced into cells and localized to mitochondria within 1 h. It protected the neuroblastomas and neurons against staurosporine-induced apoptosis and glutamate-induced excitotoxicity, respectively. The cytoprotective activity of PTD-FNK was found at concentrations as low as 0.3 pM. Additionally, PTD-FNK affected the cytosolic movement of calcium ions, which may relate to its neuroprotective action. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that myc-tagged PTD-FNK (PTD-myc-FNK) injected i.p. into mice can have access into brain neurons. When injected i.p. into gerbils, PTD-FNK prevented delayed neuronal death in the hippocampus caused by transient global ischemia. These results suggest that PTD-FNK has a potential for clinical utility as a protein therapeutic strategy to prevent cell death in the brain.

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