In several neuronal cell types, the small GTPase Rac is essential for survival. We have shown previously that the Rho family GTPase inhibitor Clostridium difficile toxin B (ToxB) induces apoptosis in primary rat cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) principally via inhibition of Rac GTPase function. In the present study, incubation with ToxB activated a proapoptotic Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) pathway, and a pan-JAK inhibitor protected CGNs from Rac inhibition. STAT1 expression was induced by ToxB; however, CGNs from STAT1 knock-out mice succumbed to ToxB-induced apoptosis as readily as wild-type CGNs. STAT3 displayed enhanced tyrosine phosphorylation following treatment with ToxB, and a reputed inhibitor of STAT3, cucurbitacin (JSI-124), reduced CGN apoptosis. Unexpectedly, JSI-124 failed to block STAT3 phosphorylation, and CGNs were not protected from ToxB by other known STAT3 inhibitors. In contrast, STAT5A tyrosine phosphorylation induced by ToxB was suppressed by JSI-124. In addition, roscovitine similarly inhibited STAT5A phosphorylation and protected CGNs from ToxB-induced apoptosis. Consistent with these results, adenoviral infection with a dominant negative STAT5 mutant, but not wild-type STAT5, significantly decreased ToxB-induced apoptosis of CGNs. Finally, chromatin immunoprecipitation with a STAT5 antibody revealed increased STAT5 binding to the promoter region of prosurvival Bcl-xL. STAT5 was recruited to the Bcl-xL promoter region in a ToxB-dependent manner, and this DNA binding preceded Bcl-xL down-regulation, suggesting transcriptional repression. These data indicate that a novel JAK/STAT5 proapoptotic pathway significantly contributes to neuronal apoptosis induced by the inhibition of Rac GTPase.
Stankiewicz, Trisha R; Loucks, F Alexandra; Schroeder, Emily K; Nevalainen, Marja T; Tyler, Kenneth L; Aktories, Klaus; Bouchard, Ron J; and Linseman, Daniel A, "Signal transducer and activator of transcription-5 mediates neuronal apoptosis induced by inhibition of Rac GTPase activity." (2012). Department of Cancer Biology Faculty Papers. Paper 28.