Wang, YZ (reprint author), Chinese Acad Sci, Shanghai Inst Biol Sci, State Key Lab Neurosci, Lab Neural Signal Transduct,Inst Neurosci,Grad Sc, 320 Yue Yang Rd, Shanghai 200031, Peoples R China,email@example.com
Brain injury after focal cerebral ischemia, the most common cause of stroke, develops from a series of pathological processes, including excitotoxicity, inflammation, and apoptosis. While NMDA receptors have been implicated in excitotoxicity, attempts to prevent ischemic brain damage by blocking NMDA receptors have been disappointing. Disruption of neuroprotective pathways may be another avenue responsible for ischemic damage, and thus preservation of neuronal survival may be important for prevention of ischemic brain injury. Here, we report that suppression of proteolytic degradation of transient receptor potential canonical 6 (TRPC6) prevented ischemic neuronal cell death in a rat model of stroke. The TRPC6 protein level in neurons was greatly reduced in ischemia via NMDA receptor-dependent calpain proteolysis of the N-terminal domain of TRPC6 at Lys(16). This downregulation was specific for TRPC6 and preceded neuronal death. In a rat model of ischemia, activating TRPC6 prevented neuronal death, while blocking TRPC6 increased sensitivity to ischemia. A fusion peptide derived from the calpain cleavage site in TRPC6 inhibited degradation of TRPC6, reduced infarct size, and improved behavioral performance measures via the cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) signaling pathway. Thus, TRPC6 proteolysis contributed to ischemic neuronal cell death, and suppression of its degradation preserved neuronal survival and prevented ischemic brain damage.