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J Neurosci Res. 2013 Jun;91(6):799-807. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23186. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

Selective activation of protein kinase C∊ in mitochondria is neuroprotective in vitro and reduces focal ischemic brain injury in mice.

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Department of Anesthesia, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Activation of protein kinase C∊ (PKC∊) confers protection against neuronal ischemia/reperfusion. Activation of PKC∊ leads to its translocation to multiple intracellular sites, so a mitochondria-selective PKC∊ activator was used to test the importance of mitochondrial activation to the neuroprotective effect of PKC∊. PKC∊ can regulate key cytoprotective mitochondrial functions, including electron transport chain activity, reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, mitochondrial permeability transition, and detoxification of reactive aldehydes. We tested the ability of mitochondria-selective activation of PKC∊ to protect primary brain cell cultures or mice subjected to ischemic stroke. Pretreatment with either general PKC∊ activator peptide, TAT-Ψ∊RACK, or mitochondrial-selective PKC∊ activator, TAT-Ψ∊HSP90, reduced cell death induced by simulated ischemia/reperfusion in neurons, astrocytes, and mixed neuronal cultures. The protective effects of both TAT-Ψ∊RACK and TAT-Ψ∊HSP90 were blocked by the PKC∊ antagonist ∊V1-2 , indicating that protection requires PKC∊ interaction with its anchoring protein, TAT-∊RACK. Further supporting a mitochondrial mechanism for PKC∊, neuroprotection by TAT-Ψ∊HSP90 was associated with a marked delay in mitochondrial membrane depolarization and significantly attenuated ROS generation during ischemia. Importantly, TAT-Ψ∊HSP90 reduced infarct size and reduced neurological deficit in C57/BL6 mice subjected to middle cerebral artery occlusion and 24 hr of reperfusion. Thus selective activation of mitochondrial PKC∊ preserves mitochondrial function in vitro and improves outcome in vivo, suggesting potential therapeutic value clinically when brain ischemia is anticipated, including neurosurgery and cardiac surgery.

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