• cardiopulmonary bypass;
  • hypothermia;
  • neuronal cell cultures;
  • oxygen/glucose deprivation;
  • SUMO2/3 conjugation;
  • Ubc9


Deep hypothermia protects the brain from ischemic damage and is therefore used during major cardiovascular surgeries requiring cardiopulmonary bypass and a period of circulatory arrest. Here, we demonstrated that small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO1-3) conjugation is markedly activated in the brain during deep to moderate hypothermia. Animals were subjected to normothermic (37°C) or deep to moderate (18°C, 24°C, 30°C) hypothermic cardiopulmonary bypass, and the effects of hypothermia on SUMO conjugation were evaluated by Western blot and immunohistochemistry. Exposure to moderate 30°C hypothermia was sufficient to markedly increase levels and nuclear accumulation of SUMO2/3-conjugated proteins in these cells. Deep hypothermia induced nuclear translocation of the SUMO-conjugating enzyme Ubc9, suggesting that the increase in nuclear levels of SUMO2/3-conjugated proteins observed in brains of hypothermic animals is an active process. Exposure of primary neuronal cultures to deep hypothermia induced only a moderate rise in levels of SUMO2/3-conjugated proteins. This suggests that neurons in vivo have a higher capacity than neurons in vitro to activate this endogenous potentially neuroprotective pathway upon exposure to hypothermia. Identifying proteins that are SUMO2/3 conjugated during hypothermia could help to design new strategies for preventive and therapeutic interventions to make neurons more resistant to a transient interruption of blood supply.