The mechanism(s) underlying neurodegeneration-associated activation of ERK1/2 remain poorly understood. We report that in cultured rat cortical neurons, whose basal ERK1/2 phosphorylation required NMDA receptors (NMDAR), the neurotoxic DNA intercalating drug cisplatin increased ERK1/2 phosphorylation via NMDAR despite reducing their activity. The rate of ERK1/2 dephosphorylation was lowered by cisplatin. Cisplatin-treated neurons showed general transcription inhibition likely accounting for the reduced expression of the ERK1/2-selective phosphatases including the dual specificity phosphatase-6 (DUSP6) and the DUSP3 activator vaccinia-related kinase-3 (VRK3). Hence, cisplatin effects on ERK1/2 may be due to the deficient ERK1/2 inhibition by the transcription-regulated phosphatases. Indeed, the transcription inhibitor actinomycin D reduced expression of DUSP6 and VRK3 while inducing the NMDAR-dependent activation of ERK1/2 and the impairment of ERK1/2 dephosphorylation. Thus, cisplatin-mediated transcriptional inhibition of ERK1/2 phosphatases contributed to delayed and long lasting accumulation of phospho-ERK1/2 that was driven by the basal NMDAR activity. Our results provide the first direct evidence for transcriptionally- regulated inactivation of neuronal ERK1/2. Its disruption likely contributes to neurodegeneration-associated activation of ERK1/2.
- DNA damage
- Mitogen-activated protein kinase
- NMDA receptor
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience