Astrocytic transcription factor REST upregulates glutamate transporter EAAT2, protecting dopaminergic neurons from manganese-induced excitotoxicity

Edward Pajarillo, Alexis Digman, Ivan Nyarko-Danquah, Deok Soo Son, Karam F.A. Soliman, Michael Aschner, Eunsook Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Chronic exposure to high levels of manganese (Mn) leads to manganism, a neurological disorder with similar symptoms to those inherent to Parkinson's disease. However, the underlying mechanisms of this pathological condition have yet to be established. Since the human excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2) (glutamate transporter 1 in rodents) is predominantly expressed in astrocytes and its dysregulation is involved in Mn-induced excitotoxic neuronal injury, characterization of the mechanisms that mediate the Mn-induced impairment in EAAT2 function is crucial for the development of novel therapeutics against Mn neurotoxicity. Repressor element 1- silencing transcription factor (REST) exerts protective effects in many neurodegenerative diseases. But the effects of REST on EAAT2 expression and ensuing neuroprotection are unknown. Given that the EAAT2 promoter contains REST binding sites, the present study investigated the role of REST in EAAT2 expression at the transcriptional level in astrocytes and Mninduced neurotoxicity in an astrocyte-neuron coculture system. The results reveal that astrocytic REST positively regulates EAAT2 expression with the recruitment of an epigenetic modifier, cAMP response element-binding protein-binding protein/p300, to its consensus binding sites in the EAAT2 promoter. Moreover, astrocytic overexpression of REST attenuates Mn-induced reduction in EAAT2 expression, leading to attenuation of glutamate-induced neurotoxicity in the astrocyte-neuron coculture system. Our findings demonstrate that astrocytic REST plays a critical role in protection against Mn-induced neurotoxicity by attenuating Mn-induced EAAT2 repression and the ensuing excitotoxic dopaminergic neuronal injury. This indicates that astrocytic REST could be a potential molecular target for the treatment of Mn toxicity and other neurological disorders associated with EAAT2 dysregulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101372
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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