Temperature-sensitive mutant of Moloney murine leukemia virus-TB (MoMuLV-ts1)-mediated neuronal death in mice is likely due to both loss of glial support and release of cytokines and neurotoxins from ts1-infected glial cells. Cytotoxic mediators present in ts1-induced spongiform lesions may generate endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, which has been implicated in the pathogenesis of a variety of neurodegenerative diseases. We investigated whether ER stress signaling is involved in ts1-mediated neuronal loss in the brain of infected mice. ts1-infected brainstems were found to show significant increases in phosphorylation of the double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase-like ER kinase and eukaryotic initiation factor 2-α. In addition, increased expression of growth arrest DNA damage 153 (GADD153), glucose-regulated protein 78, and caspase-12 were accompanied by increases in processing of caspase-12 and its downstream target, caspase-3. All of these events are markers of ER stress. We observed that GADD153 and cleaved caspase-3 were present in degenerative neurons in the lesions of infected mice, but not in uninfected controls. Phosphorylated calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II-α was significantly increased, and was coexpressed with GADD153 in a large proportion of neurons undergoing early and advanced degenerative changes. Finally, neuronal degeneration in spongiform lesions was associated with increase in calcium (Ca2+) accumulation in mitochondria. Together, these results suggest that ts1 infection-mediated neuronal degeneration in mice may result from activation of ER stress signaling pathways, presumably initiated by perturbation of Ca2+ homeostasis. Our findings highlight the importance of the ER stress signaling pathway in ts1 infection-induced neuronal degeneration and death.
- ER stress
- Neuronal death
- Spongiform encephalomyelopathy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology