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Oncotarget. 2016 Mar 15;7(11):12035-52. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.7640.

REST alleviates neurotoxic prion peptide-induced synaptic abnormalities, neurofibrillary degeneration and neuronal death partially via LRP6-mediated Wnt-β-catenin signaling.

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The State Key Laboratories for Agrobiotechnology, Key Laboratory of Animal Epidemiology and Zoonosis, Ministry of Agriculture, National Animal Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China.
School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington, Leicestershire, UK.


Prion diseases are a group of infectious neurodegenerative diseases characterized by multiple neuropathological hallmarks including synaptic damage, spongiform degeneration and neuronal death. The factors and mechanisms that maintain cellular morphological integrity and protect against neurodegeneration in prion diseases are still unclear. Here we report that after stimulation with the neurotoxic PrP106-126 fragment in primary cortical neurons, REST translocates from the cytoplasm to the nucleus and protects neurons from harmful effects of PrP106-126. Overexpression of REST reduces pathological damage and abnormal biochemical alterations of neurons induced by PrP106-126 and maintains neuronal viability by stabilizing the level of pro-survival protein FOXO1 and inhibiting the permeability of the mitochondrial outer membrane, release of cytochrome c from mitochondria to cytoplasm and the activation of Capase3. Conversely, knockdown of REST exacerbates morphological damage and inhibits the expression of FOXO1. Additionally, by overexpression or knockdown of LRP6, we further show that LRP6-mediated Wnt-β-catenin signaling partly regulates the expression of REST. Collectively, we demonstrate for the first time novel neuroprotective function of REST in prion diseases and hypothesise that the LRP6-Wnt-β-catenin/REST signaling plays critical and collaborative roles in neuroprotection. This signaling of neuronal survival regulation could be explored as a viable therapeutic target for prion diseases and associated neurodegenerative diseases.


Pathology Section; RE1-silencing transcription factor; neuroprotective mechanism; prion diseases; the Wnt-β-catenin signaling; the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 6

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