Defective Mitochondrial Dynamics and Protein Degradation Pathways Underlie Cadmium-Induced Neurotoxicity and Cell Death in Huntington's Disease Striatal Cells


Exposure to heavy metals, including cadmium (Cd), can induce neurotoxicity and cell death. Cd is abundant in the environment and accumulates in the striatum, the primary brain region selectively affected by Huntington's disease (HD). We have previously reported that mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT) combined with chronic Cd exposure induces oxidative stress and promotes metal dyshomeostasis, resulting in cell death in a striatal cell model of HD. To understand the effect of acute Cd exposure on mitochondrial health and protein degradation pathways, we hypothesized that expression of mHTT coupled with acute Cd exposure would cooperatively alter mitochondrial bioenergetics and protein degradation mechanisms in striatal STHdh cells to reveal novel pathways that augment Cd cytotoxicity and HD pathogenicity. We report that mHTT cells are significantly more susceptible to acute Cd-induced cell death as early as 6 h after 40 mu M CdCl2 exposure compared with wild-type (WT). Confocal microscopy, biochemical assays, and immunoblotting analysis revealed that mHTT and acute Cd exposure synergistically impair mitochondrial bioenergetics by reducing mitochondrial potential and cellular ATP levels and down-regulating the essential pro-fusion proteins MFN1 and MFN2. These pathogenic effects triggered cell death. Furthermore, Cd exposure increases the expression of autophagic markers, such as p62, LC3, and ATG5, and reduces the activity of the ubiquitin-proteasome system to promote neurodegeneration in HD striatal cells. Overall, these results reveal a novel mechanism to further establish Cd as a pathogenic neuromodulator in striatal HD cells via Cd-triggered neurotoxicity and cell death mediated by an impairment in mitochondrial bioenergetics and autophagy with subsequent alteration in protein degradation pathways.



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International Journal of Molecular Sciences



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Gene-environment interactions, Mutant Huntingtin, Oxidative stress, Monozygotic twins, Intranuclear inclusions, Neuronal dysfuction, Parkinsons Disease, Quality control, In-vivo, Manganese