Death of dopamine neurons in Parkinson disease (PD) may arise from consequences of the complex I (C-I) defect in the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC). Whether cells activate programmed death (apoptosis) pathways derives, in part, from relative activities of proteins such as bcl-2 and bcl-X(L), that have anti-apoptotic actions. We studied the responses of bcl-2 and bcl-X(L) genes in pharmacologic (acute incubation with methylpyridinium (MPP+)) and mitochondrial transgenic ("cybrid") models of Parkinson disease C-I defects. MPP+ incubation increased levels of bcl-2 and bcl-X(L) proteins in native SH-SY5Y cells but not in rho(0) cells devoid of ETC activity. MPP+ increased bcl-2 mRNA levels by 40% at 8 hr. Confocal microscopic imaging showed that the intracellular distribution of immunoreactive bcl-2 was not significantly associated with mitochondrial membranes at baseline but was associated with mitochondria after 12 hr of MPP+. Immunoreactive bcl-X(L) protein was significantly and equally associated with mitochondrial membranes both at baseline and after MPP+. PD cybrids showed increased basal levels of bcl-2 and bcl-X(L) proteins, similar to the maximum levels found after MPP+ treatment of control SY5Y cells. After MPP+ exposure, bcl-2 protein levels increased in control cybrids but did not increase further in PD cybrids. Both pharmacologically generated and transgenically induced C-I inhibition increases levels of anti-apoptotic bcl proteins, possibly from increased gene transcription. Augmentation of bcl-2 and bcl-X(L) expression may delay neurodegeneration in PD.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.