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Muscarinic Toxin 7 Signals Via Ca2+/Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Kinase β to Augment Mitochondrial Function and Prevent Neurodegeneration.


Mitochondrial dysfunction is implicated in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases of the nervous system. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ coactivator-1α (PGC-1α) is a regulator of mitochondrial function in multiple cell types. In sensory neurons, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) augments PGC-1α activity and this pathway is depressed in diabetes leading to mitochondrial dysfunction and neurodegeneration. Antimuscarinic drugs targeting the muscarinic acetylcholine type 1 receptor (M1R) prevent/reverse neurodegeneration by inducing nerve regeneration in rodent models of diabetes and chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase kinase β (CaMKKβ) is an upstream regulator of AMPK activity. We hypothesized that antimuscarinic drugs modulate CaMKKβ to enhance activity of AMPK, and PGC-1α, increase mitochondrial function and thus protect from neurodegeneration. We used the specific M1R antagonist muscarinic toxin 7 (MT7) to manipulate muscarinic signaling in the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons of normal rats or rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes. DRG neurons treated with MT7 (100 nM) or a selective muscarinic antagonist, pirenzepine (1 μM), for 24 h showed increased neurite outgrowth that was blocked by the CaMKK inhibitor STO-609 (1 μM) or short hairpin RNA to CaMKKβ. MT7 enhanced AMPK phosphorylation which was blocked by STO-609 (1 μM). PGC-1α reporter activity was augmented up to 2-fold (p < 0.05) by MT7 and blocked by STO-609. Mitochondrial maximal respiration and spare respiratory capacity were elevated after 3 h of exposure to MT7 (p < 0.05). Diabetes and CIPN induced a significant (p < 0.05) decrease in corneal nerve density which was corrected by topical delivery of MT7. We reveal a novel M1R-modulated, CaMKKβ-dependent pathway in neurons that represents a therapeutic target to enhance nerve repair in two of the most common forms of peripheral neuropathy.

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