Evidence is accumulating that an imbalance between pathways for degeneration or survival in motor neurons may play a central role in mechanisms that lead to neurodegeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We and other groups have observed that downregulation, or lack of induction, of the PI3K/Akt prosurvival pathway may be responsible for defective response of motor neurons to injury and their consequent cellular demise. Some of the neuroprotective effects mediated by growth factors may involve activation of Akt, but a proof of concept of Akt as a target for therapy is lacking. We demonstrate that specific expression of constitutively activated Akt3 in motor neurons through the use of the promoter of homeobox gene Hb9 prevents neuronal loss induced by SOD1.G93A both in vitro (in mixed neuron/astrocyte cocultures) and in vivo (in a mouse model of ALS). Inhibition of ASK1 and GSK3beta was involved in the neuroprotective effects of activated Akt3, further supporting the hypothesis that induction of Akt3 may be a key step in activation of pathways for survival in the attempt to counteract motor neuronal degeneration in ALS.
- Lentiviral vectors
- Motor neurons
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience