Expression and Functional Relevance of Death-Associated Protein Kinase in Human Drug-Resistant Epileptic Brain: Focusing on the Neurovascular Interface

Sherice Williams, Mohammed Hossain, Saurabh Mishra, Jorge Gonzalez-Martinez, Imad Najm, Chaitali Ghosh
Molecular Neurobiology 2018 November 9
Death-associated protein kinase (DAPK) is a key player in various cell death signaling pathways. Prolonged seizures induce neuronal stress; thus, we studied DAPK expression in resected brain tissues from patients with refractory epilepsy and the pathophysiological relevance of neurovascular DAPK. We used brain resections from temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), tumor (BT), arteriovenous malformation (AVM), and autopsy, and isolated human endothelial cells (EPI-ECs) and glial cells (EPI-Astro) from epileptic brains compared to control brain endothelial cells (HBMECs) and astrocytes. DAPK and phosphorylated DAPK (p-DAPK) expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and western blot. Subcellular localization of DAPK in epileptic brain was explored; DAPK mRNA/protein levels in EPI-ECs/EPI-Astro were evaluated. We assessed DAPK localization with hypoxic inducible factor (HIF-1α) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in epilepsy, BT, and AVM. We found DAPK overexpression across neurons, microcapillaries, and astrocytes in TLE vs controls; DAPK and p-DAPK levels significantly increased only in microsomal fractions of epileptic brain. DAPK mRNA remained unchanged, although increased DAPK and p-DAPK protein expression was observed in EPI-ECs. DAPK inhibition reduced p-DAPK, HIF-1α, and VEGF expression, but increased cytotoxicity and decreased cell viability in EPI-ECs and EPI-astro vs. controls. DAPK staining in TLE resembled BT and AVM, with predominant DAPK/p-DAPK expression in neurons and vasculature. Taken together, these findings suggest DAPK could be a potential molecular target in neuronal death and vascular changes in epilepsy. Increased brain endothelial and astrocytic DAPK in epilepsy, identified for the first time, may have relevance to angiogenesis, hypoxia, and cell survival in pathological conditions.

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