DJ-1 protects against cell death following acute cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury

R K Dongworth, U A Mukherjee, A R Hall, R Astin, S-B Ong, Z Yao, A Dyson, G Szabadkai, S M Davidson, D M Yellon, D J Hausenloy
Cell Death & Disease 2014 February 27, 5: e1082
Novel therapeutic targets are required to protect the heart against cell death from acute ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI). Mutations in the DJ-1 (PARK7) gene in dopaminergic neurons induce mitochondrial dysfunction and a genetic form of Parkinson's disease. Genetic ablation of DJ-1 renders the brain more susceptible to cell death following ischemia-reperfusion in a model of stroke. Although DJ-1 is present in the heart, its role there is currently unclear. We sought to investigate whether mitochondrial DJ-1 may protect the heart against cell death from acute IRI by preventing mitochondrial dysfunction. Overexpression of DJ-1 in HL-1 cardiac cells conferred the following beneficial effects: reduced cell death following simulated IRI (30.4±4.7% with DJ-1 versus 52.9±4.7% in control; n=5, P<0.05); delayed mitochondrial permeability transition pore (MPTP) opening (a critical mediator of cell death) (260±33 s with DJ-1 versus 121±12 s in control; n=6, P<0.05); and induction of mitochondrial elongation (81.3±2.5% with DJ-1 versus 62.0±2.8% in control; n=6 cells, P<0.05). These beneficial effects of DJ-1 were absent in cells expressing the non-functional DJ-1(L166P) and DJ-1(Cys106A) mutants. Adult mice devoid of DJ-1 (KO) were found to be more susceptible to cell death from in vivo IRI with larger myocardial infarct sizes (50.9±3.5% DJ-1 KO versus 41.1±2.5% in DJ-1 WT; n≥7, P<0.05) and resistant to cardioprotection by ischemic preconditioning. DJ-1 KO hearts showed increased mitochondrial fragmentation on electron microscopy, although there were no differences in calcium-induced MPTP opening, mitochondrial respiratory function or myocardial ATP levels. We demonstrate that loss of DJ-1 protects the heart from acute IRI cell death by preventing mitochondrial dysfunction. We propose that DJ-1 may represent a novel therapeutic target for cardioprotection.

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