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J Neurosci. 2005 Jul 20;25(29):6765-74.

FasL (CD95L/APO-1L) resistance of neurons mediated by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase-Akt/protein kinase B-dependent expression of lifeguard/neuronal membrane protein 35.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Medical School, University of Tübingen, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


The contribution of Fas (CD95/APO-1) to cell death mechanisms of differentiated neurons is controversially discussed. Rat cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) express high levels of Fas in vitro but are resistant to FasL (CD95L/APO-1L/CD178)-induced apoptosis. We here show that this resistance was mediated by a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase)-Akt/protein kinase B (PKB)-dependent expression of lifeguard (LFG)/neuronal membrane protein 35. Reduction of endogenous LFG expression by antisense oligonucleotides or small interfering RNA lead to increased sensitivity of CGNs to FasL-induced cell death and caspase-8 cleavage. The inhibition of PI 3-kinase activity sensitized CGNs to FasL-induced caspase-8 and caspase-3 processing and caspase-dependent fodrin cleavage. Pharmacological inhibition of PI 3-kinase, overexpression of the inhibitory protein IkappaB, or cotransfection of an LFG reporter plasmid with dominant-negative Akt/PKB inhibited LFG reporter activity, whereas overexpression of constitutively active Akt/PKB increased LFG reporter activity. Overexpression of LFG in CGNs interfered with the sensitization to FasL by PI 3-kinase inhibitors. In contrast to CGNs, 12 glioma cell lines, which are sensitive to FasL, did not express LFG. Gene transfer of LFG into these FasL-susceptible glioma cells protected against FasL-induced apoptosis. These results demonstrate that LFG mediated the FasL resistance of CGNs and that, under certain circumstances, e.g., inhibition of the PI 3-kinase-Akt/PKB pathway, CGNs were sensitized to FasL.

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