The role of p38 in mitochondrial respiration in male and female mice
p38 is a mitogen-activated protein kinase and mediates cell growth, cell differentiation, and synaptic plasticity. The aim of this study is to determine the extent to which p38 plays a role in maintaining mitochondrial respiration in male and female mice under a normal condition. To achieve this aim, we have generated transgenic mice that lack p38 in cerebellar Purkinje neurons by crossing Pcp2 (Purkinje cell protein 2)-Cre mice with p38(loxP/loxP) mice. Mitochondria from cerebellum were then isolated from the transgenic and wild-type mice to measure mitochondrial respiration using XF24 respirometer. The mRNA and protein expression of cytochrome c oxidase (COX) in cerebellum were also measured using RT-PCR and immunoblot methods. Separately, HT22 cells were used to determine the involvement of 17β-estradiol (E2) and COX in mitochondrial respiration. The genetic knockout of p38 in Purkinje neurons suppressed the mitochondrial respiration only in male mice and increased COX expression only in female mice. The inhibition of COX by sodium azide (SA) sharply suppressed mitochondrial respiration of HT22 cells in a manner that was protected by E2. These data suggest that p38 is required for the mitochondrial respiration of male mice. When p38 is below a normal level, females may maintain mitochondrial respiration through COX up-regulation.
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