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The Nitric Oxide-Cyclic GMP Pathway Regulates FoxO and Alters Dopaminergic Neuron Survival in Drosophila

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030958
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Enzymes
  • Neurochemistry
  • Neurochemicals
  • Genetics
  • Human Genetics
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Model Organisms
  • Animal Models
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Signaling Cascades
  • Signaling In Cellular Processes
  • Signaling In Selected Disciplines
  • Neuroscience
  • Molecular Neuroscience
  • Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Activation of the forkhead box transcription factor FoxO is suggested to be involved in dopaminergic (DA) neurodegeneration in a Drosophila model of Parkinson's disease (PD), in which a PD gene product LRRK2 activates FoxO through phosphorylation. In the current study that combines Drosophila genetics and biochemical analysis, we show that cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP)-dependent kinase II (cGKII) also phosphorylates FoxO at the same residue as LRRK2, and Drosophila orthologues of cGKII and LRRK2, DG2/For and dLRRK, respectively, enhance the neurotoxic activity of FoxO in an additive manner. Biochemical assays using mammalian cGKII and FoxO1 reveal that cGKII enhances the transcriptional activity of FoxO1 through phosphorylation of the FoxO1 S319 site in the same manner as LRRK2. A Drosophila FoxO mutant resistant to phosphorylation by DG2 and dLRRK (dFoxO S259A corresponding to human FoxO1 S319A) suppressed the neurotoxicity and improved motor dysfunction caused by co-expression of FoxO and DG2. Nitric oxide synthase (NOS) and soluble guanylyl cyclase (sGC) also increased FoxO's activity, whereas the administration of a NOS inhibitor L-NAME suppressed the loss of DA neurons in aged flies co-expressing FoxO and DG2. These results strongly suggest that the NO-FoxO axis contributes to DA neurodegeneration in LRRK2-linked PD.

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