Impairment of the astrocytic glutamate transporter excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2) is associated with neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease (PD), Alzheimer's disease (AD), and manganism, a neurological disorder caused by overexposure to manganese (Mn) which shares the features of sporadic PD. Mechanisms of Mn-induced neurotoxicity include dysregulation of EAAT2 following activation of the transcription factor Yin Yang 1 (YY1) by transcriptional upregulation, but the posttranslational mechanisms by which YY1 is activated to repress EAAT2 remain to be elucidated. In the present study, we tested if Mn activates YY1 through posttranslational phosphorylation in cultured H4 human astrocytes, leading to EAAT2 repression. The results demonstrate that Mn exposure induced phosphorylation of YY1 at serine residues via kinases Aurora B kinase (AurkB) and Casein kinase II (CK2), leading to YY1 nuclear translocation, YY1/HDAC interactions, binding to the EAAT2 promoter, and consequent decreases in EAAT2 promoter activity and mRNA/protein levels. Although further studies are warranted to fully elucidate the mechanisms of Mn-induced YY1 phosphorylation and resultant EAAT2 impairment, our findings indicate that serine phosphorylation of YY1 via AurkB and CK2 is critical, at least in part, to its activation and transcriptional repression of EAAT2.
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