The PSD95-nNOS interface: A target for inhibition of excitotoxic p38 stress-activated protein kinase activation and cell death
journal contributionposted on 24.10.2012, 08:58 by J. Cao, J. I. Viholainen, Caroline Dart, Helen K. Warwick, M. L. Leyland, M. J. Courtney
The stress-activated protein kinase p38 and nitric oxide (NO) are proposed downstream effectors of excitotoxic cell death. Although the postsynaptic density protein PSD95 can recruit the calcium-dependent neuronal NO synthase (nNOS) to the mouth of the calcium-permeable NMDA receptor, and depletion of PSD95 inhibits excitotoxicity, the possibility that selective uncoupling of nNOS from PSD95 might be neuroprotective is unexplored. The relationship between excitotoxic stress–generated NO and activation of p38, and the significance of the PSD95–nNOS interaction to p38 activation also remain unclear. We find that NOS inhibitors reduce both glutamate-induced p38 activation and the resulting neuronal death, whereas NO donor has effects consistent with NO as an upstream regulator of p38 in glutamate-induced cell death. Experiments using a panel of decoy constructs targeting the PSD95–nNOS interaction suggest that this interaction and subsequent NO production are critical for glutamate-induced p38 activation and the ensuing cell death, and demonstrate that the PSD95–nNOS interface provides a genuine possibility for design of neuroprotective drugs with increased selectivity.