Richard J Flannery

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States

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Publications (4)41.79 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Transient global ischemia in rats induces delayed death of hippocampal CA1 neurons. Early events include caspase activation, cleavage of anti-death Bcl-2 family proteins and large mitochondrial channel activity. However, whether these events have a causal role in ischemia-induced neuronal death is unclear. We found that the Bcl-2 and Bcl-x(L) inhibitor ABT-737, which enhances death of tumor cells, protected rats against neuronal death in a clinically relevant model of brain ischemia. Bcl-x(L) is prominently expressed in adult neurons and can be cleaved by caspases to generate a pro-death fragment, ΔN-Bcl-x(L). We found that ABT-737 administered before or after ischemia inhibited ΔN-Bcl-x(L)-induced mitochondrial channel activity and neuronal death. To establish a causal role for ΔN-Bcl-x(L), we generated knock-in mice expressing a caspase-resistant form of Bcl-x(L). The knock-in mice exhibited markedly reduced mitochondrial channel activity and reduced vulnerability to ischemia-induced neuronal death. These findings suggest that truncated Bcl-x(L) could be a potentially important therapeutic target in ischemic brain injury.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2012 · Nature Neuroscience
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    ABSTRACT: Transient forebrain or global ischemia induces delayed neuronal death in vulnerable CA1 pyramidal cells with many features of apoptosis. A brief period of ischemia, i.e., ischemic preconditioning, affords robust protection of CA1 neurons against a subsequent more prolonged ischemic challenge. Here we show that preconditioning acts via PI3K/Akt signaling to block the ischemia-induced cascade involving mitochondrial translocation of Bad, assembly of Bad with Bcl-x(L), cleavage of Bcl-x(L) to form its prodeath fragment, DeltaN-Bcl-x(L), activation of large-conductance channels in the mitochondrial outer membrane, mitochondrial release of cytochrome c and Smac/DIABLO (second mitochondria-derived activator of caspases/direct IAP-binding protein with low pI), caspase activation, and neuronal death. These findings show how preconditioning acts to prevent the release of cytochrome c and Smac/DIABLO from mitochondria and to preserve the integrity of the mitochondrial membrane. The specific PI3K inhibitor LY294002 administered in vivo 1 h before or immediately after ischemia or up to 120 h later significantly reverses preconditioning-induced protection, indicating a requirement for sustained PI3K signaling in ischemic tolerance. These findings implicate PI3K/Akt signaling in maintenance of the integrity of the mitochondrial outer membrane.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2008 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Maturation of neuronal synapses is thought to involve mitochondria. Bcl-xL protein inhibits mitochondria-mediated apoptosis but may have other functions in healthy adult neurons in which Bcl-xL is abundant. Here, we report that overexpression of Bcl-xL postsynaptically increases frequency and amplitude of spontaneous miniature synaptic currents in rat hippocampal neurons in culture. Bcl-xL, overexpressed either pre or postsynaptically, increases synapse number, the number and size of synaptic vesicle clusters, and mitochondrial localization to vesicle clusters and synapses, likely accounting for the changes in miniature synaptic currents. Conversely, knockdown of Bcl-xL or inhibiting it with ABT-737 decreases these morphological parameters. The mitochondrial fission protein, dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1), is a GTPase known to localize to synapses and affect synaptic function and structure. The effects of Bcl-xL appear mediated through Drp1 because overexpression of Drp1 increases synaptic markers, and overexpression of the dominant-negative dnDrp1-K38A decreases them. Furthermore, Bcl-xL coimmunoprecipitates with Drp1 in tissue lysates, and in a recombinant system, Bcl-xL protein stimulates GTPase activity of Drp1. These findings suggest that Bcl-xL positively regulates Drp1 to alter mitochondrial function in a manner that stimulates synapse formation.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2008 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: Transient global ischemia is a neuronal insult that induces delayed cell death. A hallmark event in the early post-ischemic period is enhanced permeability of mitochondrial membranes. The precise mechanisms by which mitochondrial function is disrupted are, as yet, unclear. Here we show that global ischemia promotes alterations in mitochondrial membrane contact points, a rise in intramitochondrial Zn2+, and activation of large, multi-conductance channels in mitochondrial outer membranes by 1 h after insult. Mitochondrial channel activity was associated with enhanced protease activity and proteolytic cleavage of BCL-xL to generate its pro-death counterpart, deltaN-BCL-xL. The findings implicate deltaN-BCL-xL in large, multi-conductance channel activity. Consistent with this, large channel activity was mimicked by introduction of recombinant deltaN-BCL-xL to control mitochondria and blocked by introduction of a functional BCL-xL antibody to post-ischemic mitochondria via the patch pipette. Channel activity was also inhibited by nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, indicative of a role for the voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) of the outer mitochondrial membrane. In vivo administration of the membrane-impermeant Zn2+ chelator CaEDTA before ischemia or in vitro application of the membrane-permeant Zn2+ chelator tetrakis-(2-pyridylmethyl) ethylenediamine attenuated channel activity, suggesting a requirement for Zn2+. These findings reveal a novel mechanism by which ischemic insults disrupt the functional integrity of the outer mitochondrial membrane and implicate deltaN-BCL-xL and VDAC in the large, Zn2+-dependent mitochondrial channels observed in post-ischemic hippocampal mitochondria.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2006 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Publication Stats

261 Citations
41.79 Total Impact Points


  • 2008-2012
    • Yale University
      • Department of Internal Medicine
      New Haven, Connecticut, United States
  • 2006
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States