Bcl-xL overexpression blocks bax-mediated mitochondrial contact site formation and apoptosis in rod photoreceptors of lead-exposed mice.
He L, Perkins GA, Poblenz AT, Harris JB, Hung M, Ellisman MH, Fox DA
Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences USA (2003)
Category: apoptosis ¤ Added: Feb 07, 2003 ¤ Rating: ◊◊
Photoreceptor apoptosis and resultant visual deficits occur in humans and animals with inherited and disease-, injury-, and chemical-induced retinal degeneration. A clinically relevant mouse model of progressive rod photoreceptor-selective apoptosis was produced by low-level developmental lead exposure and studied in combination with transgenic mice overexpressing Bcl-x(L) only in the photoreceptors. A multiparametric analysis of rod apoptosis and mitochondrial structure-function was performed. Mitochondrial cristae topography and connectivity, matrix volume, and contact sites were examined by using 3D electron tomography. Lead-induced rod-selective apoptosis was accompanied by rod Ca(2+) overload, rhodopsin loss, translocation of Bax from the cytosol to the mitochondria, decreased rod mitochondrial respiration and membrane potential, mitochondrial cytochrome c release, caspase-3 activation, and an increase in the number of mitochondrial contact sites. These effects occurred without mitochondrial matrix swelling, outer membrane rupture, caspase-8 activation, or Bid cleavage. Bcl-x(L) overexpression completely blocked all apoptotic events, except Ca(2+) overload, and maintained normal rod mitochondrial function throughout adulthood. This study presents images of mitochondrial contact sites in an in vivo apoptosis model and shows that Bcl-x(L) overexpression blocks increased contact sites and apoptosis. These findings extend our in vitro retinal studies with Pb(2+) and Ca(2+) and suggest that developmental lead exposure produced rod-selective apoptosis without mitochondrial swelling by translocating cytosolic Bax to the mitochondria, which likely sensitized the Pb(2+) and Ca(2+) overloaded rod mitochondria to release cytochrome c. These results have relevance for therapies in a wide variety of progressive retinal and neuronal degenerations where Ca(2+) overload, lead exposure, andor mitochondrial dysfunction occur.