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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Transforming growth factor-alpha attenuates N-methyl-D-aspartic acid toxicity in cortical cultures by preventing protein synthesis inhibition through an Erk1/2-dependent mechanism.

Transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-alpha), a ligand of the epidermal growth factor receptor, reduces the infarct size after focal cerebral ischemia in rat, but the molecular basis underlying the protection is unknown. Excitotoxicity and global inhibition of translation are acknowledged to contribute significantly to the ischemic damage. Here we studied whether TGF-alpha can rescue neurons from excitotoxicity in vitro and how it affects calcium homeostasis, protein synthesis, and the associated Akt and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (Erk1/2) intracellular signaling pathways in mixed neuron-glia cortical cultures. We found that 100 ng/ml TGF-alpha attenuated neuronal cell death induced by a 30-min exposure to 35 microM N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) (as it reduced lactate dehydrogenase release, propidium iodide staining, and caspase-3 activation) and decreased the elevation of intracellular Ca2+ elicited by NMDA. TGF-alpha induced a prompt and sustained phosphorylation of Erk1/2 and prevented the loss of Akt-P induced by NMDA 3 h after exposure. The protective effect of TGF-alpha was completely prevented by PD 98059, an inhibitor of the Erk1/2 pathway. Studies of incorporation of [3H]leucine into proteins showed that NMDA decreased the rate of protein synthesis, and TGF-alpha attenuated this effect. TGF-alpha stimulated the phosphorylation of the eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) but did not affect eIF2 alpha, two proteins involved in translation regulation. PD 98059 abrogated the TGF-alpha effect on eIF4E. Our data demonstrate that TGF-alpha exerts a neuroprotective action against NMDA toxicity, in which Erk1/2 activation plays a key role, and suggest that the underlying mechanisms involve recovery of translation inhibition, mediated at least in part by eIF4E phosphorylation.[1]


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