Mechanisms to prevent caspase activation in rotenone-induced dopaminergic neurodegeneration: Role of ATP depletion and procaspase-9 degradation

Hee Won Kang, Baek Soo Han, Su Jeong Kim, Young J. Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


The evidence implicating a mode of cell death that either favors or argues against caspase-dependent apoptosis is available in studies that used experimental models of Parkinson's disease. We sought to investigate the mechanisms by which release of cytochrome c is not linked to caspase activation during rotenone-induced dopaminergic (DA) neurodegeneration. Unlike caspase activation in 6-hydroxydopamine-treated cells, both MN9D DA neuronal cells and primary cultures of mesencephalic neurons showed no obvious signs of caspase activation upon exposure to rotenone. We found that intracellular levels of ATP significantly decreased at the early phase of neurodegeneration (<∼24 h) and therefore external addition of ATP to the lysates obtained at this stage reconstituted caspase-3 activity. At a later phase of cell death (>∼24 h), both decreased levels of ATP and procaspase-9 contributed to the lack of caspase-3 activation. Under this condition, calpain and the proteasome system were responsible for the degradation of procaspase-9. Consequently, external addition of ATP and procaspase-9 to the lysates harvested at the later phase was required for activation of caspase-3. Similarly, caspase-3 activity was also reconstituted in the lysates harvested from cells co-treated with inhibitors of these proteases and incubated in the presence of external ATP. Taken together, our findings provided a sequential mechanism underlying how DA neurons may undergo caspase-independent cell death, even in the presence of cytoplasmic cytochrome c following inhibition of mitochondrial complex I.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-462
Number of pages14
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012 May

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This work was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Science and Technology through the Brain Research Center (Infra-2) and, in part, by the Mid-Career Research Program through the NRF funded by the MEST and by the KOSEF (SRC, Neurodegeneration Control Research Center at Kyung Hee University, the initial grant number R33-2008-036).

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanisms to prevent caspase activation in rotenone-induced dopaminergic neurodegeneration: Role of ATP depletion and procaspase-9 degradation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this