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Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2009 Sep-Oct;2(4):238-46. doi: 10.4161/oxim.2.4.9745.

Role of tyrosine phosphorylation in the antioxidant effects of the p75 neurotrophin receptor.

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Department of Pediatrics and the Center for Neural Disease and Degeneration, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


The p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR) is an alpha- and gamma-secretase substrate expressed preferentially in the cholinergic neurons of the nucleus basalis of Meynert, the hippocampus, and the cerebellum of the adult brain. Mutations of the gamma-secretase, presenilin, have been implicated in familial Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, oxidative and inflammatory injury to the cholinergic neurons of the nucleus basalis of Meynert and hippocampus plays a critical role in the pathology of Alzheimer's disease. The intracellular domain of p75NTR (p75ICD) is the alpha- and gamma-secretase cleavage fragment of the holoreceptor that functions as an antioxidant in PC12 rat pheochromocytoma cells. Phosphorylation of the receptor is thought to be necessary for many of its functions, and two tyrosines in p75ICD have been among the functionally important phosphorylation sites. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to generate three p75ICD mutants that cannot be phosphorylated at either or both tyrosines, respectively. Each of these mutants was expressed in p75NTR-deficient PC12 cells to determine the effects of blocking phosphorylation at specific sites on the antioxidant activity of p75ICD. Interfering with phosphorylation at tyrosine-337 impairs antioxidant function, while interfering with phosphorylation at tyrosine-366 does not, and may in fact impart protection from oxidant stress. Neither MAPK (i.e., p38, ERK1, ERK2) content nor NF-kappaB activation accounts for the differential sensitivity to oxidant stress among the differentially phosphorylated p75NTR cell lines. However, differences in the time course of ERK1,2 phosphorylation among the lines account in large measure for their differential oxidant sensitivity. The phosphorylation state of specific sites on p75ICD may modulate the resistance of neurons in Alzheimer's disease-relevant brain regions to oxidant stress.

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