Mutations in the AFG3L2 gene have been linked to spinocerebellar ataxia type 28 and spastic ataxia-neuropathy syndrome in humans; however, the pathogenic mechanism is still unclear. AFG3L2 encodes a subunit of the mitochondrial m-AAA protease, previously implicated in quality control of misfolded inner mitochondrial membrane proteins and in regulatory functions via processing of specific substrates. Here, we used a conditional Afg3l2 mouse model that allows restricted deletion of the gene in Purkinje cells (PCs) to shed light on the pathogenic cascade in the neurons mainly affected in the human diseases. We demonstrate a cell-autonomous requirement of AFG3L2 for survival of PCs. Examination of PCs prior to neurodegeneration revealed fragmentation and altered distribution of mitochondria in the dendritic tree, indicating that abnormal mitochondrial dynamics is an early event in the pathogenic process. Moreover, PCs displayed features pointing to defects in mitochondrially encoded respiratory chain subunits at early stages. To unravel the underlying mechanism, we examined a constitutive knockout of Afg3l2, which revealed a decreased rate of mitochondrial protein synthesis associated with impaired mitochondrial ribosome assembly. We therefore propose that defective mitochondrial protein synthesis, leading to early-onset fragmentation of the mitochondrial network, is a central causative factor in AFG3L2-related neurodegeneration.
Eva R. Almajan, Ricarda Richter, Lars Paeger, Paola Martinelli, Esther Barth, Thorsten Decker, Nils-Göran Larsson, Peter Kloppenburg, Thomas Langer, Elena I. Rugarli
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a fatal, inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the gene encoding huntingtin (HTT). Therapeutic approaches to lower mutant HTT (mHTT) levels are expected to proceed to human trials, but noninvasive quantification of mHTT is not currently possible. The importance of the peripheral immune system in neurodegenerative disease is becoming increasingly recognized. Peripheral immune cells have been implicated in HD pathogenesis, but HTT levels in these cells have not been quantified before. A recently described time-resolved Förster resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) immunoassay was used to quantify mutant and total HTT protein levels in leukocytes from patients with HD. Mean mHTT levels in monocytes, T cells, and B cells differed significantly between patients with HD and controls and between pre-manifest mutation carriers and those with clinical onset. Monocyte and T cell mHTT levels were significantly associated with disease burden scores and caudate atrophy rates in patients with HD. mHTT N-terminal fragments detected in HD PBMCs may explain the progressive increase in mHTT levels in these cells. These findings indicate that quantification of mHTT in peripheral immune cells by TR-FRET holds significant promise as a noninvasive disease biomarker.
Andreas Weiss, Ulrike Träger, Edward J. Wild, Stephan Grueninger, Ruth Farmer, Christian Landles, Rachael I. Scahill, Nayana Lahiri, Salman Haider, Douglas Macdonald, Chris Frost, Gillian P. Bates, Graeme Bilbe, Rainer Kuhn, Ralph Andre, Sarah J. Tabrizi
The formation of a long-lasting memory requires a transcription-dependent consolidation period that converts a short-term memory into a long-term memory. Nuclear receptors compose a class of transcription factors that regulate diverse biological processes, and several nuclear receptors have been implicated in memory formation. Here, we examined the potential contribution of nuclear receptors to memory consolidation by measuring the expression of all 49 murine nuclear receptors after learning. We identified 13 nuclear receptors with increased expression after learning, including all 3 members of the Nr4a subfamily. These CREB-regulated Nr4a genes encode ligand-independent “orphan” nuclear receptors. We found that blocking NR4A activity in memory-supporting brain regions impaired long-term memory but did not impact short-term memory in mice. Further, expression of Nr4a genes increased following the memory-enhancing effects of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors. Blocking NR4A signaling interfered with the ability of HDAC inhibitors to enhance memory. These results demonstrate that the Nr4a gene family contributes to memory formation and is a promising target for improving cognitive function.
Joshua D. Hawk, Angie L. Bookout, Shane G. Poplawski, Morgan Bridi, Allison J. Rao, Michael E. Sulewski, Brian T. Kroener, David J. Manglesdorf, Ted Abel
Progress in neurodegenerative disease research is hampered by the lack of biomarkers of neuronal dysfunction. We here identified a class of cerebrospinal fluid–based (CSF-based) kinetic biomarkers that reflect altered neuronal transport of protein cargo, a common feature of neurodegeneration. After a pulse administration of heavy water (2H2O), distinct, newly synthesized 2H-labeled neuronal proteins were transported to nerve terminals and secreted, and then appeared in CSF. In 3 mouse models of neurodegeneration, distinct 2H-cargo proteins displayed delayed appearance and disappearance kinetics in the CSF, suggestive of aberrant transport kinetics. Microtubule-modulating pharmacotherapy normalized CSF-based kinetics of affected 2H-cargo proteins and ameliorated neurodegenerative symptoms in mice. After 2H2O labeling, similar neuronal transport deficits were observed in CSF of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) compared with non-PD control subjects, which indicates that these biomarkers are translatable and relevant to human disease. Measurement of transport kinetics may provide a sensitive method to monitor progression of neurodegeneration and treatment effects.
Patrizia Fanara, Po-Yin A. Wong, Kristofor H. Husted, Shanshan Liu, Victoria M. Liu, Lori A. Kohlstaedt, Timothy Riiff, Joan C. Protasio, Drina Boban, Salena Killion, Maudi Killian, Lorrie Epling, Elisabeth Sinclair, Julia Peterson, Richard W. Price, Deborah E. Cabin, Robert L. Nussbaum, Jörg Brühmann, Roland Brandt, Chadwick W. Christine, Michael J. Aminoff, Marc K. Hellerstein
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive disease associated with neuronal cell death that is thought to involve aberrant immune responses. Here we investigated the role of innate immunity in a mouse model of ALS. We found that inflammatory monocytes were activated and that their progressive recruitment to the spinal cord, but not brain, correlated with neuronal loss. We also found a decrease in resident microglia in the spinal cord with disease progression. Prior to disease onset, splenic Ly6Chi monocytes expressed a polarized macrophage phenotype (M1 signature), which included increased levels of chemokine receptor CCR2. As disease onset neared, microglia expressed increased CCL2 and other chemotaxis-associated molecules, which led to the recruitment of monocytes to the CNS by spinal cord–derived microglia. Treatment with anti-Ly6C mAb modulated the Ly6Chi monocyte cytokine profile, reduced monocyte recruitment to the spinal cord, diminished neuronal loss, and extended survival. In humans with ALS, the analogous monocytes (CD14+CD16–) exhibited an ALS-specific microRNA inflammatory signature similar to that observed in the ALS mouse model, linking the animal model and the human disease. Thus, the profile of monocytes in ALS patients may serve as a biomarker for disease stage or progression. Our results suggest that recruitment of inflammatory monocytes plays an important role in disease progression and that modulation of these cells is a potential therapeutic approach.
Oleg Butovsky, Shafiuddin Siddiqui, Galina Gabriely, Amanda J. Lanser, Ben Dake, Gopal Murugaiyan, Camille E. Doykan, Pauline M. Wu, Reddy R. Gali, Lakshmanan K. Iyer, Robert Lawson, James Berry, Anna M. Krichevsky, Merit E. Cudkowicz, Howard L. Weiner
The second-largest cause of X-linked mental retardation is a deficiency in creatine transporter (CRT; encoded by SLC6A8), which leads to speech and language disorders with severe cognitive impairment. This syndrome, caused by the absence of creatine in the brain, is currently untreatable because CRT is required for creatine entry into brain cells. Here, we developed a brain-specific Slc6a8 knockout mouse (Slc6a8–/y) as an animal model of human CRT deficiency in order to explore potential therapies for this syndrome. The phenotype of the Slc6a8–/y mouse was comparable to that of human patients. We successfully treated the Slc6a8–/y mice with the creatine analog cyclocreatine. Brain cyclocreatine and cyclocreatine phosphate were detected after 9 weeks of cyclocreatine treatment in Slc6a8–/y mice, in contrast to the same mice treated with creatine or placebo. Cyclocreatine-treated Slc6a8–/y mice also exhibited a profound improvement in cognitive abilities, as seen with novel object recognition as well as spatial learning and memory tests. Thus, cyclocreatine appears promising as a potential therapy for CRT deficiency.
Yuko Kurosawa, Ton J. DeGrauw, Diana M. Lindquist, Victor M. Blanco, Gail J. Pyne-Geithman, Takiko Daikoku, James B. Chambers, Stephen C. Benoit, Joseph F. Clark
Pain and depression are frequently comorbid disorders, but the mechanism underlying this association is unknown. Here, we report that brain indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1), a rate-limiting enzyme in tryptophan metabolism, plays a key role in this comorbidity. We found that chronic pain in rats induced depressive behavior and IDO1 upregulation in the bilateral hippocampus. Upregulation of IDO1 resulted in the increased kynurenine/tryptophan ratio and decreased serotonin/tryptophan ratio in the bilateral hippocampus. We observed elevated plasma IDO activity in patients with both pain and depression, as well as in rats with anhedonia induced by chronic social stress. Intra-hippocampal administration of IL-6 in rats, in addition to in vitro experiments, demonstrated that IL-6 induces IDO1 expression through the JAK/STAT pathway. Further, either Ido1 gene knockout or pharmacological inhibition of hippocampal IDO1 activity attenuated both nociceptive and depressive behavior. These results reveal an IDO1-mediated regulatory mechanism underlying the comorbidity of pain and depression and suggest a new strategy for the concurrent treatment of both conditions via modulation of brain IDO1 activity.
Hyangin Kim, Lucy Chen, Grewo Lim, Backil Sung, Shuxing Wang, Michael F. McCabe, Gabriel Rusanescu, Liling Yang, Yinghong Tian, Jianren Mao
Congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMSs) are neuromuscular disorders that can be caused by defects in acetylcholine receptor (AChR) function. Disease-associated point mutants can reveal the unsuspected functional significance of mutated residues. We identified two pathogenic mutations in the extracellular domain of the AChR α subunit (AChRα) in a patient with myasthenic symptoms since birth: a V188M mutation in the C-loop and a heteroallelic G74C mutation in the main immunogenic region. The G74C mutation markedly reduced surface AChR expression in cultured cells, whereas the V188M mutant was expressed robustly but had severely impaired kinetics. Single-channel patch-clamp analysis indicated that V188M markedly decreased the apparent AChR channel opening rate and gating efficiency. Mutant cycle analysis of energetic coupling among conserved residues within or dispersed around the AChRα C-loop revealed that V188 is functionally linked to Y190 in the C-loop and to D200 in β-strand 10, which connects to the M1 transmembrane domain. Furthermore, V188M weakens inter-residue coupling of K145 in β-strand 7 with Y190 and with D200. Cumulatively, these results indicate that V188 of AChRα is part of an interdependent tetrad that contributes to rearrangement of the C-loop during the initial coupling of agonist binding to channel gating.
Xin-Ming Shen, Joan M. Brengman, Steven M. Sine, Andrew G. Engel
An emerging theory of schizophrenia postulates that hypofunction of adenosine signaling may contribute to its pathophysiology. This study was designed to test the “adenosine hypothesis” of schizophrenia and to evaluate focal adenosine-based strategies for therapy. We found that augmentation of adenosine by pharmacologic inhibition of adenosine kinase (ADK), the key enzyme of adenosine clearance, exerted antipsychotic-like activity in mice. Further, overexpression of ADK in transgenic mice was associated with attentional impairments linked to schizophrenia. We observed that the striatal adenosine A2A receptor links adenosine tone and psychomotor response to amphetamine, an indicator of dopaminergic signaling. Finally, intrastriatal implants of engineered adenosine-releasing cells restored the locomotor response to amphetamine in mice overexpressing ADK, whereas the same grafts placed proximal to the hippocampus of transgenic mice reversed their working memory deficit. This functional double dissociation between striatal and hippocampal adenosine demonstrated in Adk transgenic mice highlights the independent contributions of these two interconnected brain regions in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and thus provides the rationale for developing local adenosine augmentation therapies for the treatment of schizophrenia.
Hai-Ying Shen, Philipp Singer, Nikki Lytle, Catherine J. Wei, Jing-Quan Lan, Rebecca L. Williams-Karnesky, Jiang-Fan Chen, Benjamin K. Yee, Detlev Boison
Stressful events during early childhood can have a profound lifelong influence on emotional and cognitive behaviors. However, the mechanisms by which stress affects neonatal brain circuit formation are poorly understood. Here, we show that neonatal social isolation disrupts molecular, cellular, and circuit developmental processes, leading to behavioral dysfunction. Neonatal isolation prevented long-term potentiation and experience-dependent synaptic trafficking of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) receptors normally occurring during circuit formation in the rodent barrel cortex. This inhibition of AMPA receptor trafficking was mediated by an increase of the stress glucocorticoid hormone and was associated with reduced calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase type II (CaMKII) signaling, resulting in attenuated whisker sensitivity at the cortex. These effects led to defects in whisker-dependent behavior in juvenile animals. These results indicate that neonatal social isolation alters neuronal plasticity mechanisms and perturbs the initial establishment of a normal cortical circuit, which potentially explains the long-lasting behavioral effects of neonatal stress.
Tomoyuki Miyazaki, Kenkichi Takase, Waki Nakajima, Hirobumi Tada, Daisuke Ohya, Akane Sano, Takahisa Goto, Hajime Hirase, Roberto Malinow, Takuya Takahashi