The neurotoxicant PCB-95 by increasing the neuronal transcriptional repressor REST down-regulates caspase-8 and increases Ripk1, Ripk3 and MLKL expression determining necroptotic neuronal death

Natascia Guida, Giusy Laudati, Angelo Serani, Luigi Mascolo, Pasquale Molinaro, Paolo Montuori, Gianfranco Di Renzo, Lorella M.T. Canzoniero, Luigi Formisano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Our previous study showed that the environmental neurotoxicant non-dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-95 increases RE1-silencing transcription factor (REST) expression, which is related to necrosis, but not apoptosis, of neurons. Meanwhile, necroptosis is a type of a programmed necrosis that is positively regulated by receptor interacting protein kinase 1 (RIPK1), RIPK3 and mixed lineage kinase domain-like (MLKL) and negatively regulated by caspase-8. Here we evaluated whether necroptosis contributes to PCB-95-induced neuronal death through REST up-regulation. Our results demonstrated that in cortical neurons PCB-95 increased RIPK1, RIPK3, and MLKL expression and decreased caspase-8 at the gene and protein level. Furthermore, the RIPK1 inhibitor necrostatin-1 or siRNA-mediated RIPK1, RIPK3 and MLKL expression knockdown significantly reduced PCB-95-induced neuronal death. Intriguingly, PCB-95-induced increases in RIPK1, RIPK3, MLKL expression and decreases in caspase-8 expression were reversed by knockdown of REST expression with a REST-specific siRNA (siREST). Notably, in silico analysis of the rat genome identified a REST consensus sequence in the caspase-8 gene promoter (Casp8-RE1), but not the RIPK1, RIPK3 and MLKL promoters. Interestingly, in PCB-95-treated neurons, REST binding to the Casp8-RE1 sequence increased in parallel with a reduction in its promoter activity, whereas under the same experimental conditions, transfection of siREST or mutation of the Casp8-RE1 sequence blocked PCB-95-induced caspase-8 reduction. Since RIPK1, RIPK3 and MLKL rat genes showed no putative REST binding site, we assessed whether the transcription factor cAMP Responsive Element Binding Protein (CREB), which has a consensus sequence in all three genes, affected neuronal death. In neurons treated with PCB-95, CREB protein expression decreased in parallel with a reduction in binding to the RIPK1, RIPK3 and MLKL gene promoter sequence. Furthermore, CREB overexpression was associated with reduced promoter activity of the RIPK1, RIPK3 and MLKL genes. Collectively, these results indicate that PCB-95 was associated with REST-induced necroptotic cell death by increasing RIPK1, RIPK3 and MLKL expression and reducing caspase-8 levels. In addition, since REST is involved in several neurological disorders, therapies that block REST-induced necroptosis could be a new strategy to revert the neurodetrimental effects associated to its overexpression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-241
Number of pages13
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 15 2017



  • Necroptosis
  • Neuronal cell death
  • PCB-95
  • REST

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology

Cite this