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J Clin Invest. 2012 Apr;122(4):1354-67. doi: 10.1172/JCI61332. Epub 2012 Mar 26.

Neurotoxin-induced ER stress in mouse dopaminergic neurons involves downregulation of TRPC1 and inhibition of AKT/mTOR signaling.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota 58201, USA.


Individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD) experience a progressive decline in motor function as a result of selective loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra. The mechanism(s) underlying the loss of DA neurons is not known. Here, we show that a neurotoxin that causes a disease that mimics PD upon administration to mice, because it induces the selective loss of DA neurons in the substantia nigra, alters Ca²⁺ homeostasis and induces ER stress. In a human neuroblastoma cell line, we found that endogenous store-operated Ca²⁺ entry (SOCE), which is critical for maintaining ER Ca²⁺ levels, is dependent on transient receptor potential channel 1 (TRPC1) activity. Neurotoxin treatment decreased TRPC1 expression, TRPC1 interaction with the SOCE modulator stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1), and Ca²⁺ entry into the cells. Overexpression of functional TRPC1 protected against neurotoxin-induced loss of SOCE, the associated decrease in ER Ca²⁺ levels, and the resultant unfolded protein response (UPR). In contrast, silencing of TRPC1 or STIM1 increased the UPR. Furthermore, Ca²⁺ entry via TRPC1 activated the AKT pathway, which has a known role in neuroprotection. Consistent with these in vitro data, Trpc1⁻/⁻ mice had an increased UPR and a reduced number of DA neurons. Brain lysates of patients with PD also showed an increased UPR and decreased TRPC1 levels. Importantly, overexpression of TRPC1 in mice restored AKT/mTOR signaling and increased DA neuron survival following neurotoxin administration. Overall, these results suggest that TRPC1 is involved in regulating Ca²⁺ homeostasis and inhibiting the UPR and thus contributes to neuronal survival.

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