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Rotenone Induction of Hydrogen Peroxide Inhibits mTOR-mediated S6K1 and 4E-BP1/eIF4E Pathways, Leading to Neuronal Apoptosis

Qian Zhou, Chunxiao Liu, Wen Liu, Hai Zhang, Ruijie Zhang, Jia Liu, Jinfei Zhang, Chong Xu, Lei Liu, Shile Huang, Long Chen*

Rotenone, a common pesticide and inhibitor of mitochondrial complex I, induces loss of dopaminergic neurons and consequential aspects of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, the exact mechanism of rotenone neurotoxicity is not fully elucidated. Here, we show that rotenone induced reactive oxygen species (ROS), leading to apoptotic cell death in PC12 cells and primary neurons. Pretreatment with catalase (CAT), a hydrogen peroxide-scavenging enzyme, attenuated rotenone-induced ROS and neuronal apoptosis, implying hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) involved, which was further verified by imaging intracellular H2O2 using a peroxide-selective probe H2DCFDA. Using thenoyltrifluoroacetone (TTFA), antimycin A or Mito-TEMPO, we further demonstrated rotenone-induced mitochondrial H2O2-dependent neuronal apoptosis. Rotenone dramatically inhibited mTOR-mediated phosphorylation of S6K1 and 4E-BP1, which was also attenuated by CAT in the neuronal cells. Of interest, ectopic expression of wild-type mTOR or constitutively active S6K1, or downregulation of 4E-BP1 partially prevented rotenone-induced H2O2 and cell apoptosis. Furthermore, we noticed that rotenone-induced H2O2 was linked to the activation of caspase-3 pathway. This was evidenced by the finding that pretreatment with CAT partially blocked rotenone-induced cleavages of caspase-3 and PARP. Of note, zVAD-fmk, a pan caspase inhibitor, only partially prevented rotenone-induced apoptosis in PC12 cells and primary neurons. Expression of mTOR-wt, S6K1-ca, or silencing 4E-BP1 potentiated zVAD-fmk protection against rotenone-induced apoptosis in the cells. The results indicate that rotenone induction of H2O2 inhibits mTOR-mediated S6K1 and 4E-BP1/eIF4E pathways, resulting in caspase-dependent and -independent apoptosis in neuronal cells. Our findings suggest that rotenone-induced neuronal loss in PD may be prevented by activating mTOR signaling and/or administering antioxidants.

Toxicological Sciences