Overexpression of apoptosis inducing factor aggravates hypoxic-ischemic brain injury in neonatal mice

Cell Death Dis. 2020 Jan 30;11(1):77. doi: 10.1038/s41419-020-2280-z.


Apoptosis inducing factor (AIF) has been shown to be a major contributor to neuron loss in the immature brain after hypoxia-ischemia (HI). Indeed, mice bearing a hypomorphic mutation causing reduced AIF expression are protected against neonatal HI. To further investigate the possible molecular mechanisms of this neuroprotection, we generated an AIF knock-in mouse by introduction of a latent transgene coding for flagged AIF protein into the Rosa26 locus, followed by its conditional activation by a ubiquitously expressed Cre recombinase. Such AIF transgenic mice overexpress the pro-apoptotic splice variant of AIF (AIF1) at both the mRNA (5.9 times higher) and protein level (2.4 times higher), but not the brain-specific AIF splice-isoform (AIF2). Excessive AIF did not have any apparent effects on the phenotype or physiological functions of the mice. However, brain injury (both gray and white matter) after neonatal HI was exacerbated in mice overexpressing AIF, coupled to enhanced translocation of mitochondrial AIF to the nucleus as well as enhanced caspase-3 activation in some brain regions, as indicated by immunohistochemistry. Altogether, these findings corroborate earlier studies demonstrating that AIF plays a causal role in neonatal HI brain injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Apoptosis / genetics*
  • Apoptosis Inducing Factor / genetics
  • Apoptosis Inducing Factor / metabolism*
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Ontology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Dynamics / genetics
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • RNA Splicing
  • Transcriptome / genetics
  • Up-Regulation


  • Apoptosis Inducing Factor
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Caspase 3