Dynamic Metabolic and Transcriptional Responses of Proteasome-Inhibited Neurons

Suciu Ilinca, Delp Johannes, Gutbier Simon, Ückert Anna-Katharina, Spreng Anna-Sophie, Eberhard Philipp, Karreman Christiaan, Schreiber Falk, Madjar Katrin, Rahnenführer Jörg, Celardo Ivana, Amelio Ivano, Leist Marcel
DOI: 10.3390/antiox12010164
PMID: 36671027
Keyword: ATF4 · LUHMES · Nrf2 · TempO-Seq · metabolomics · neurotoxicity · oxidative stress · proteasome inhibition · proteostasis · transcriptomics.


Proteasome inhibition is associated with parkinsonian pathology in vivo and degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in vitro. We explored here the metabolome (386 metabolites) and transcriptome (3257 transcripts) regulations of human LUHMES neurons, following exposure to MG-132 [100 nM]. This proteasome inhibitor killed cells within 24 h but did not reduce viability for 12 h. Overall, 206 metabolites were changed in live neurons. The early (3 h) metabolome changes suggested a compromised energy metabolism. For instance, AMP, NADH and lactate were up-regulated, while glycolytic and citric acid cycle intermediates were down-regulated. At later time points, glutathione-related metabolites were up-regulated, most likely by an early oxidative stress response and activation of NRF2/ATF4 target genes. The transcriptome pattern confirmed proteostatic stress (fast up-regulation of proteasome subunits) and also suggested the progressive activation of additional stress response pathways. The early ones (e.g., HIF-1, NF-kB, HSF-1) can be considered a cytoprotective cellular counter-regulation, which maintained cell viability. For instance, a very strong up-regulation of AIFM2 (=FSP1) may have prevented fast ferroptotic death. For most of the initial period, a definite life-death decision was not taken, as neurons could be rescued for at least 10 h after the start of proteasome inhibition. Late responses involved p53 activation and catabolic processes such as a loss of pyrimidine synthesis intermediates. We interpret this as a phase of co-occurrence of protective and maladaptive cellular changes. Altogether, this combined metabolomics-transcriptomics analysis informs on responses triggered in neurons by proteasome dysfunction that may be targeted by novel therapeutic intervention in Parkinson’s disease.