Exposure of the brain to ionizing radiation can cause neurocognitive deficiencies. The pathophysiology of these neurological changes is complex and includes radiation-induced apoptosis in the subgranular zone of the hippocampus. We have recently found that inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β) resulted in significant protection from radiation-induced apoptosis in hippocampal neurons. The molecular mechanisms of this cytoprotection include abrogation of radiation-induced accumulation of p53. Here we show that pretreatment of irradiated HT-22 hippocampal-derived neurons with small molecule inhibitors of GSK-3β SB216763 or SB415286, or with GSK-3β-specific shRNA resulted in accumulation of the p53-specific E3 ubiquitin ligase MDM2. Knockdown of MDM2 using specific shRNA or chemical inhibition of MDM2-p53 interaction prevented the protective changes triggered by GSK-3β inhibition in irradiated HT-22 neurons and restored radiation cytotoxicity. We found that this could be due to regulation of apoptosis by subcellular localization and interaction of GSK-3β, p53 and MDM2. These data suggest that the mechanisms of radioprotection by GSK-3β inhibitors in hippocampal neurons involve regulation of MDM2-dependent p53 accumulation and interactions between GSK-3β, MDM2 and p53.
- hippocampal neurons
- ionizing radiation