Polysialic acid (PSA) is a large, negatively charged, linear homopolymer of alpha2-8-linked sialic acid residues. It is generated by two polysialyltransferases and attached to N- and/or O-linked glycans, and its main carrier is the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM). PSA controls the development and regeneration of the nervous system by enhancing cell migration, axon pathfinding, synaptic targeting, synaptic plasticity, by regulating the differentiation of progenitor cells and by modulating cell–cell and cell–matrix adhesions. In the adult, PSA plays a role in the immune system, and PSA mimetics promote functional recovery after nervous system injury. In search for novel small molecule mimetics of PSA that are applicable for therapy, we identified idarubicin, an antineoplastic anthracycline, and irinotecan, an antineoplastic agent of the topoisomerase I inhibitor class, as PSA mimetics using a competition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Idarubicin and irinotecan compete with the PSA-mimicking peptide and colominic acid, the bacterial analog of PSA, for binding to the PSA-specific monoclonal antibody 735. Idarubicin and irinotecan stimulate neurite outgrowth and survival of cultured cerebellar neurons after oxidative stress via protein kinase C and Erk1/2 in a similar manner as colominic acid, whereas Fyn, casein kinase II and the phosphatase and tensin homolog are only involved in idarubicin and irinotecan-stimulated neurite outgrowth. These novel results show that the structure and function of PSA can be mimicked by the small organic compounds irinotecan and idarubicin which trigger the same signaling cascades as PSA, thus introducing the possibility of retargeting these drugs to treat nervous system injuries. (Figure presented.).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- cell survival
- neurite outgrowth
- polysialic acid