Prototypical NF-κB consists of a transcription factor dimer of p50 and p65, and an inhibitory subunit called I-κB. NF-κB is activated in neurons in response to excitotoxic, metabolic, and oxidative stress. Cell-culture data suggest that activation of NF-κB can prevent neuronal apoptosis, but its role in vivo is unclear and the specific κB subunits involved are unknown. In Huntington's disease (HD), striatal neurons degenerate, and a similar pattern of neuronal vulnerability occurs in rats and mice following exposure to the mitochondrial toxin 3-nitropropionic acid (3NP). We report that mice lacking the p50 subunit of NF-κB exhibit increased damage to striatal neurons following administration of 3NP. The neuronal death occurs by apoptosis as indicated by increased caspase activation and DNA fragmentation into oligonucleosomes. NF-κB activity is markedly increased in striatum 24-72 h following 3NP administration in wild-type mice, but not in mice lacking p50, indicating that p50 is necessary for the vast majority of 3NP-induced NF-κB DNA-binding activity in striatum. Cultured striatal neurons from p50-/-mice exhibited enhanced oxidative stress, perturbed calcium regulation, and increased cell death following exposure to 3NP, suggesting a direct adverse effect of p50 deficiency in striatal neurons.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience