Increased 90-kDa ribosomal S6 kinase (Rsk) activity is protective against mutant huntingtin toxicity.

Mol Neurodegener 2011 Oct 31;6:74. Epub 2011 Oct 31.

Departament de Biologia Cel·lular, Immunologia i Neurociències, Facultat de Medicina, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain.

Background: The 90-kDa ribosomal S6 kinase (Rsk) family is involved in cell survival. Rsk activation is regulated by sequential phosphorylations controlled by extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) 1/2 and 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK1). Altered ERK1/2 and PDK1 phosphorylation have been described in Huntington's disease (HD), characterized by the expression of mutant huntingtin (mhtt) and striatal degeneration. However, the role of Rsk in this neurodegenerative disease remains unknown. Here, we analyzed the protein levels, activity and role of Rsk in in vivo and in vitro HD models.

Results: We observed increased protein levels of Rsk1 and Rsk2 in the striatum of Hdh(Q111/Q111) and R6/1 mice, STHdh(Q111/Q111) cells and striatal cells transfected with full-length mhtt. Analysis of the phosphorylation of Rsk in Hdh mice and STHdh cells showed reduced levels of phospho Ser-380 (dependent on ERK1/2), whereas phosphorylation at Ser-221 (dependent on PDK1) was increased. Moreover, we found that elevated Rsk activity in STHdh(Q111/Q111) cells was mainly due to PDK1 activity, as assessed by transfection with Rsk mutant constructs. The increase of Rsk in STHdh(Q111/Q111) cells occurred in the cytosol and in the nucleus, which results in enhanced phosphorylation of both cytosolic and nuclear Rsk targets. Finally, pharmacological inhibition of Rsk, knock-down and overexpression experiments indicated that Rsk activity exerts a protective effect against mhtt-induced cell death in STHdh(Q7/Q7) cells transfected with mhtt.

Conclusion: The increase of Rsk levels and activity would act as a compensatory mechanism with capacity to prevent mhtt-mediated cell death. We propose Rsk as a good target for neuroprotective therapies in HD.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1750-1326-6-74DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3217046PMC
October 2011
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