Bok Is Not Pro-Apoptotic But Suppresses Poly ADP-Ribose Polymerase-Dependent Cell Death Pathways and Protects against Excitotoxic and Seizure-Induced Neuronal Injury.
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UNLABELLED: Bok (Bcl-2-related ovarian killer) is a Bcl-2 family member that, because of its predicted structural homology to Bax and Bak, has been proposed to be a pro-apoptotic protein. In this study, we demonstrate that Bok is highly expressed in neurons of the mouse brain but thatbokwas not required for staurosporine-, proteasome inhibition-, or excitotoxicity-induced apoptosis of cultured cortical neurons. On the contrary, we found thatbok-deficient neurons were more sensitive to oxygen/glucose deprivation-induced injuryin vitroand seizure-induced neuronal injuryin vivo Deletion ofbokalso increased staurosporine-, excitotoxicity-, and oxygen/glucose deprivation-induced cell death inbax-deficient neurons. Single-cell imaging demonstrated thatbok-deficient neurons failed to maintain their neuronal Ca(2+)homeostasis in response to an excitotoxic stimulus; this was accompanied by a prolonged deregulation of mitochondrial bioenergetics.bokdeficiency led to a specific reduction in neuronal Mcl-1 protein levels, and deregulation of both mitochondrial bioenergetics and Ca(2+)homeostasis was rescued by Mcl-1 overexpression. Detailed analysis of cell death pathways demonstrated the activation of poly ADP-ribose polymerase-dependent cell death inbok-deficient neurons. Collectively, our data demonstrate that Bok acts as a neuroprotective factor rather than a pro-death effector during Ca(2+)- and seizure-induced neuronal injuryin vitroandin vivo
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Bcl-2 proteins are essential regulators of the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway. The Bcl-2 protein Bok is highly expressed in the CNS. Because of its sequence similarity to Bax and Bak, Bok has long been considered part of the pro-apoptotic Bax-like subfamily, but no studies have yet been performed in neurons to test this hypothesis. Our study provides important new insights into the functional role of Bok during neuronal apoptosis and specifically in the setting of Ca(2+)- and seizure-mediated neuronal injury. We show that Bok controls neuronal Ca(2+)homeostasis and bioenergetics and, contrary to previous assumptions, exerts neuroprotective activitiesin vitroandin vivo Our results demonstrate that Bok cannot be placed unambiguously into the Bax-like Bcl-2 subfamily of pro-apoptotic proteins.