NAPVSIPQ (NAP) and all D-amino acid SALLRSIPA (D-SAL) are neuroprotective peptides derived from activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP) and activity-dependent neurotrophic factor (ADNF), respectively. Both proteins were shown to protect against cognitive impairment, using different animal models and to increase neuronal survival following exposure to neurotoxins. NAP was extensively tested and found to increase microtubule stability, protect axonal transport, and inhibit apoptosis. Here, we aimed to further evaluate and correlate effects at the behavioral level, in a rat model of diabetes. Diabetes is primarily a metabolic disorder which presents secondary neurological manifestations. Diabetes induces peripheral nervous system damage which is translated into impaired sensory perception and is termed diabetic neuropathy. Diabetes-related central nervous system damage causes cognitive decline. The behavioral study aimed to evaluate the effect of NAP and D-SAL on peripheral neuropathy and cognitive decline. Peripheral neuropathy was tested by measuring the response to a thermal stimulus, and cognitive ability was measured by a social memory test and a spatial memory test using long- and short-term dependent tasks and a reference memory task. Results indicated an immediate sensory neuropathy in the diabetic model, which was prevented by both peptides and a later neuropathic phase, prevented only by NAP treatment. Cognitive tests revealed impaired performance in both social and spatial memory tests in the diabetes model. Each of the peptides improved different aspects of cognitive behavior, with NAP being more potent than D-SAL. Mechanistically, both NAP and SAL contain a SIP (SxIP) domain that has been shown to interact with microtubule end-binding proteins (EBs). Specifically, we have previously shown a direct interaction of NAP with EB1 and EB3; we have further shown an interaction of the NAP-derived 4 amino acid SKIP peptide with EB3, stimulating axonal transport. Interestingly, the all D-amino acid peptide, D-SKIP, only partially mimicked SKIP activity. Our current results implicate D-SAL activity with potentially reduced potency compared to NAP, partially mimicking the SKIP/D-SKIP results and placing the SIP (SxIP) motif as a central focus for microtubule-based neuroprotection.
Keywords: ADNF (activity-dependent neurotrophic factor); ADNP (activity-dependent neuroprotective protein); D-SAL (all D-amino acid SALLRSIPA); NAP (NAPVISPQ); SIP (SxIP) the peptide motif interacting with microtubule end binding proteins.