Elevated global SUMOylation in Ubc9 transgenic mice protects their brains against focal cerebral ischemic damage

PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e25852. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025852. Epub 2011 Oct 7.


We have previously shown that a massive increase in global SUMOylation occurs during torpor in ground squirrels, and that overexpression of Ubc9 and/or SUMO-1 in cell lines and cortical neurons protects against oxygen and glucose deprivation. To examine whether increased global SUMOylation protects against ischemic brain damage, we have generated transgenic mice in which Ubc9 is expressed strongly in all tissues under the chicken β-actin promoter. Ubc9 expression levels in 10 founder lines ranged from 2 to 30 times the endogenous level, and lines that expressed Ubc9 at modestly increased levels showed robust resistance to brain ischemia compared to wild type mice. The infarction size was inversely correlated with the Ubc9 expression levels for up to five times the endogenous level. Although further increases showed no additional benefit, the Ubc9 expression level was highly correlated with global SUMO-1 conjugation levels (and SUMO-2,3 levels to a lesser extent) up to a five-fold Ubc9 increase. Most importantly, there were striking reciprocal relationships between SUMO-1 (and SUMO-2,3) conjugation levels and cerebral infarction volumes among all tested animals, suggesting that the limit in cytoprotection by global SUMOylation remains undefined. These results support efforts to further augment global protein SUMOylation in brain ischemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / genetics*
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / metabolism*
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / pathology
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / physiopathology
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Phenotype
  • Sumoylation* / genetics
  • Time Factors
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / genetics*
  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes / metabolism


  • Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzymes
  • ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme UBC9