"Exposing both normal and mutant neurons to pesticidesincluding paraquat, maneb, and rotenonecreated excessive free radicals in cells with the mutation, causing damage to dopamine-containing neurons that led to cell death," said Frank Soldner, M.D., research scientist in Jaenisch's lab and co-author of the study.
"In fact, we observed the detrimental effects of these pesticides with short exposures to doses well below EPA-accepted levels," said Scott Ryan, Ph.D., researcher in the Del E. Webb Center and lead author of the paper.
Having access to genetically matched neurons with the exception of a single mutation simplified the interpretation of the genetic contribution to pesticide-induced neuronal death. In this case, the researchers were able to pinpoint how cells with the mutation, when exposed to pesticides, disrupt a key mitochondrial pathwaycalled MEF2C-PGC1alphathat normally protects neurons that contain dopamine. The free radicals attacked the MEF2C protein, leading to the loss of function of this pathway that would otherwise have protected the nerve cells from the pesticides.
"Once we understood the pathway and the molecules that were altered by the pesticides, we used high-throughput screening to identify molecules that could inhibit the effect of free radicals on the pathway," said Lipton. "One molecule we identified was isoxazole, which protected mutant neurons from cell death induced by the tested pesticides. Since several FDA-approved drugs contain derivatives of isoxazole, our findings may have potential clinical implications for repurposing these drugs to treat Parkinson's."
While the study clearly shows the relationship between a mutation, the env
|Contact: Susan Gammon, Ph.D.|
Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute