The GLT-1 (EAAT2) subtype of glutamate transporter ensures crisp excitatory signaling and limits excitotoxicity in the CNS. Astrocytic expression of GLT-1 is regulated during development, by neuronal activity, and in neurodegenerative diseases. Although neurons activate astrocytic expression of GLT-1, the mechanisms involved have not been identified. In the present study, astrocytes from transgenic mice that express enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) under the control of a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) containing a very large region of DNA surrounding the GLT-1 gene (BAC GLT-1 eGFP mice) were used to assess the role of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) in neuron-dependent activation of the GLT-1 promoter. We provide evidence that neurons activate NF-κB signaling in astrocytes. Transduction of astrocytes from the BAC GLT-1 eGFP mice with dominant-negative inhibitors of NF-κB signaling completely blocked neuron-dependent activation of a NF-κB reporter construct and attenuated induction of eGFP. Exogenous expression of p65 and/or p50 NF-κB subunits induced expression of eGFP or GLT-1 and increased GLT-1-mediated transport activity. Using wild type and mutant GLT-1 promoter reporter constructs, we found that NF-κB sites at −583 or −251 relative to the transcription start site eliminated neuron-dependent reporter activation. Electrophoretic mobility shift and supershift assays reveal that p65 and p50 interact with these same sites ex vivo. Finally, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) showed that p65 and p50 interact with these sites in adult cortex, but not in kidney (a tissue that expresses no detectable GLT-1). Together, these studies strongly suggest that NF-κB contributes to neuron-dependent regulation of astrocytic GLT-1 transcription.
glutamate transport; NF-κB; astrocytes; p65; p50; EAAT2; GLT-1; IκBα
Astroglial glutamate transporter EAAT2/GLT1 prevents glutamate-induced excitotoxicity in the central nervous system. Expression of EAAT2/GLT1 is dynamically regulated by neurons. The pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) involves astroglial dysfunction, including dramatic loss of EAAT2/GLT1. DNA methylation of gene promoters represents one of the most important epigenetic mechanisms in regulating gene expression. The involvement of DNA methylation in the regulation of astroglial EAAT2/GLT1 expression in different conditions, especially in ALS has not been explored. In this study, we established a procedure to selectively isolate a pure astrocyte population in vitro and in vivo from BAC GLT1 eGFP mice using an eGFP-based fluorescence-activated cell sorting approach. Astrocytes isolated from this procedure are GFAP+ and GLT1+ and respond to neuronal stimulation, enabling direct methylation analysis of GLT1 promoter in these astrocytes. To investigate the role of DNA methylation in physiological and pathological EAAT2/GLT1 expression, methylation status of the EAAT2/GLT1 promoter was analyzed in astrocytes from in vitro and in vivo paradigms or postmortem ALS motor cortex by bisulfite sequencing method. DNA demethylation on selective CpG sites of the GLT1 promoter was highly correlated to increased GLT1 mRNA levels in astrocytes in response to neuronal stimulation; however, low level of methylation was found on CpG sites of EAAT2 promoter from postmortem motor cortex of human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients. In summary, hypermethylation on selective CpG sites of the GLT1 promoter is involved in repression of GLT1 promoter activation, but this regulation does not play a role in astroglial dysfunction of EAAT2 expression in patients with ALS.
epigenetic; astrocyte; GLT1
Astrocyte heterogeneity remains largely unknown in the CNS due to lack of specific astroglial markers. In this study, molecular identity of in vivo astrocytes was characterized in BAC ALDH1L1 and BAC GLT1 eGFP promoter reporter transgenic mice. ALDH1L1 promoter is selectively activated in adult cortical and spinal cord astrocytes, indicated by the overlap of eGFP expression with ALDH1L1 and GFAP, but not with NeuN, APC, Olig2, IbaI, PDGFRα immunoreactivity in BAC ALDH1L1 eGFP reporter mice. Interestingly, ALDH1L1 expression levels (protein, mRNA, and promoter activity) in spinal cord were selectively decreased during postnatal maturation. In contrast, its expression was up-regulated in reactive astrocytes in both acute neural injury and chronic neurodegenerative (G93A mutant SOD1) conditions, similar to GFAP, but opposite of GLT1. ALDH1L1+ and GLT1+ cells isolated through fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) from BAC ALDH1L1 and BAC GLT1 eGFP mice share a highly similar gene expression profile, suggesting ALDH1L1 and GLT1 are co-expressed in the same population of astrocytes. This observation was further supported by overlap of the eGFP driven by the ALDH1L1 genomic promoter and the tdTomato driven by a 8.3kb EAAT2 promoter fragment in astrocytes of BAC ALDH1L1 eGFP X EAAT2-tdTomato mice. These studies support ALDH1L1 as a general CNS astroglial marker and investigated astrocyte heterogeneity in the CNS by comparing the molecular identity of the ALDH1L1+ and GLT1+ astrocytes from astroglial reporter mice. These astroglial reporter mice provide useful in vivo tools for the molecular analysis of astrocytes in physiological and pathological conditions.
astroglia; BAC; ALDH1L1; GLT1; GFAP; oligodendroglia; ALS
Granule cells in the hippocampus, a region critical for memory and learning, are generated mainly during the early postnatal period but neurogenesis continues in adulthood. Postnatal neuronal production is carried out by primary progenitors that express glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and they are assumed to function as stem cells. A central question regarding postnatal dentate neurogenesis is how astrocyte-like progenitors produce neurons. To reveal cell division patterns and the process of neuronal differentiation of astrocyte-like neural progenitors, we performed time-lapse imaging in cultured hippocampal slices from early postnatal transgenic mice with mouse GFAP promoter-controlled enhanced green fluorescent protein (mGFAP-eGFP Tg mice) in combination with a retrovirus carrying a red fluorescent protein gene. Our results showed that the majority of GFAP-eGFP+ progenitor cells that express GFAP, Sox2 and nestin divided symmetrically to produce pairs of GFAP+ cells (45%) or pairs of neuron-committed cells (45%), whereas a minority divided asymmetrically to generate GFAP+ cells and neuron-committed cells (10%). The present results suggest that a substantial number of GFAP-expressing progenitors functions as transient amplifying progenitors, at least in an early postnatal dentate gyrus, although a small population appears to be stem cell-like progenitors. From the present data, we discuss possible cell division patterns of adult GFAP+ progenitors.
GLT1, the predominant glutamate transporter of the forebrain, exists in two splice variant isoforms, i.e. GLT1a and GLT1b. Although GLT1 was originally only detected in astrocytes, we have recently demonstrated that GLT1a protein is expressed by neurons in the hippocampus as well. In the present study, the mRNA distribution patterns for the two isoforms were examined throughout the rat brain using non-isotopic in situ hybridization and variant specific RNA probes. Both isoforms were expressed in neuronal subgroups outside the hippocampus such as in the cerebral cortex layer VI, or the neurons in the olfactory tubercle. Similar to the hippocampus, GLT1a was the predominant transcript in neurons. Both GLT1 isoforms were widely expressed in astrocytes throughout the brain. GLT1a mRNA expression in astrocytes showed noticeable variation in labeling intensity in subregions of the hippocampus and other areas, whereas GLT1b expression in astrocytes was relatively homogeneous. On the subcellular level, GLT1a mRNA was primarily expressed in astrocyte processes, whereas GLT1b mRNA was more restricted to the astrocyte cell body. The two isoforms showed similar distributions in the subfornical organ and in tanycytes of the third ventricle. However, GLT1 expression in the pineal gland and the retina was primarily due to GLT1b, whereas GLT1a was more strongly expressed in Bergman glia in the cerebellum. These findings suggest that the expression of the two GLT1 isoforms is regulated by different mechanisms. Moreover, the function of the two isoforms may be subject to different regulatory processes.
uptake; presynaptic; alternative splicing; excitotoxicity; excitatory; synapse
Enkephalins are endogenous opiates that are assumed to modulate nociceptive information by mediating synaptic transmission in the central nervous system, including the spinal dorsal horn.
To develop a new tool for the identification of in vitro enkephalinergic neurons and to analyze enkephalin promoter activity, we generated transgenic mice for a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC). Enkephalinergic neurons from these mice expressed enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) under the control of the preproenkephalin (PPE) gene (penk1) promoter. eGFP-positive neurons were distributed throughout the gray matter of the spinal cord, and were primarily observed in laminae I-II and V-VII, in a pattern similar to the distribution pattern of enkephalin-containing neurons. Double immunostaining analysis using anti-enkephalin and anti-eGFP antibodies showed that all eGFP-expressing neurons contained enkephalin. Incubation in the presence of forskolin, an activator of adenylate cyclase, increased the number of eGFP-positive neurons. These results indicate that eGFP expression is controlled by the penk1 promoter, which contains cyclic AMP-responsive elements. Sections obtained from sciatic nerve-ligated mice exhibited increased eGFP-positive neurons on the ipsilateral (nerve-ligated side) compared with the contralateral (non-ligated side). These data indicate that PPE expression is affected by peripheral nerve injury. Additionally, single-neuron RT-PCR analysis showed that several eGFP positive-neurons in laminae I-II expressed glutamate decarboxylase 67 mRNA and that some expressed serotonin type 3 receptors.
These results suggest that eGFP-positive neurons in laminae I-II coexpress enkephalin and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and are activated by forskolin and in conditions of nerve injury. The penk1-eGFP BAC transgenic mouse contributes to the further characterization of enkephalinergic neurons in the transmission and modulation of nociceptive information.
The weakly inwardly rectifying K+ channel Kir4.1 is found in many glial cells including astrocytes. However, questions remain regarding the relative contribution of Kir4.1 to the resting K+ conductance of mature astrocytes in situ. We employed a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) transgenic approach in mice to visualize Kir4.1 expression in vivo. These mice (Kir4.1-EGFP) express Enhanced Green Fluorescent Protein (EGFP) under the transcriptional control of the Kir4.1 promoter. The brains of adult Kir4.1-EGFP transgenic mice showed coexpression of EGFP and Kir4.1 in astrocytes. In addition, weaker expression of EGFP was detected in NG2+ glial cells when compared to EGFP expression in GFAP+ glial cells. Whole-cell voltage clamp recordings of EGFP+ glial cells in the CA1 area of the adult mouse hippocampus indicated astrocytes displaying properties consistent with both the “passive” and “complex” subpopulations. EGFP+ cells with bright fluorescence had the linear current-voltage (I-V) relationships and extensive gap junctional coupling characteristic of passive astrocytes. However EGFP+ glia with weaker fluorescence displayed properties associated with complex astrocytes including non-linear I-V relationships and lack of intercellular gap junctional coupling. Pharmacological blockade of inward currents implied that Kir4.1 channels constitute the dominant resting K+ conductance in both glial cell types and are more highly expressed in passive astrocytes. These results suggest differential expression of Kir4.1 in glia and that this channel likely underlies the resting K+ conductance in passive and complex astrocytes.
Passive astrocytes; complex astrocytes; GFAP; NG2; potassium siphoning; potassium channel
The glial glutamate transporter GLT-1 is abundantly expressed in astrocytes and is crucial for glutamate removal from the synaptic cleft. Decreases in glutamate uptake activity and expression of spinal glutamate transporters are reported in animal models of pathological pain. However, the lack of available specific inhibitors and/or activators for GLT-1 makes it difficult to determine the roles of spinal GLT-1 in inflammatory and neuropathic pain. In this study, we examined the effect of gene transfer of GLT-1 into the spinal cord with recombinant adenoviruses on the inflammatory and neuropathic pain in rats.
Intraspinal infusion of adenoviral vectors expressing the GLT-1 gene increased GLT-1 expression in the spinal cord 2–21 days after the infusion. Transgene expression was primarily localized to astrocytes. The spinal GLT-1 gene transfer had no effect on acute mechanical and thermal nociceptive responses in naive rats, whereas it significantly reduced the inflammatory mechanical hyperalgesia induced by hindlimb intraplantar injection of carrageenan/kaolin. Spinal GLT-1 gene transfer 7 days before partial sciatic nerve ligation recovered the extent of the spinal GLT-1 expression in the membrane fraction that was decreased following the nerve ligation, and prevented the induction of tactile allodynia. However, the partial sciatic nerve ligation-induced allodynia was not reversed when the adenoviruses were infused 7 or 14 days after the nerve ligation.
These results suggest that overexpression of GLT-1 on astrocytes in the spinal cord by recombinant adenoviruses attenuates the induction, but not maintenance, of inflammatory and neuropathic pain, probably by preventing the induction of central sensitization, without affecting acute pain sensation. Upregulation or functional enhancement of spinal GLT-1 could be a novel strategy for the prevention of pathological pain.
The retrotrapezoid nucleus (RTN) contains non-cholinergic non-catecholaminergic glutamatergic neurons that express the transcription factor Phox2b (chemically coded or “cc” RTN neurons). These cells regulate breathing and may be central chemoreceptors. Here we explore their ultrastructure and their acid-sensitivity using two novel BAC eGFP-Phox2b transgenic mice (B/G, GENSAT JX99) in which respectively 36% and 100% of the cc RTN neurons express the transgene in complete or partial anatomical isolation from other populations of eGFP neurons.
All but one eGFP-labeled RTN neuron recorded in these mice were acid-activated in slices. These cells contained VGLUT2 mRNA and 50% contained preprogalanin mRNA (determined by single-cell PCR in the B/G mouse). Two neuronal subgroups were revealed which differed in discharge rate at pH 7.3 (Type I ~2; Type II ~4 Hz) and the degree of alkalization that silenced the cells (Type I: 7.4 – 7.6; Type II: 7.8 – 8.0). Medial to the RTN, C1 neurons recorded in a tyrosine-hydroxylase-GFP mouse were pH-insensitive between pH 6.9 – 7.5.
Ultrastructural studies demonstrated that eGFP-labeled RTN neurons were surrounded by numerous capillaries and were often in direct contact with glial cells, pericytes and the basement membrane of capillaries. Terminals contacting large proximal eGFP-dendrites formed mainly symmetric, likely inhibitory, synapses. Terminals on more distal eGFP-dendrites formed preferentially asymmetric, presumably excitatory, synapses.
In sum, C1 cells are pH-insensitive whereas cc RTN neurons are uniformly acid-sensitive. The RTN neurons receive inhibitory and excitatory synaptic inputs and may have unfettered biochemical interactions with glial cells and the local microvasculature.
Central chemoreceptors; breathing; respiration; Phox2b; retrotrapezoid nucleus; medulla oblongata
Inactivating genes in vivo is an important technique for establishing their function in the adult nervous system. Unfortunately, conventional knockout mice may suffer from several limitations including embryonic or perinatal lethality and the compensatory regulation of other genes. One approach to producing conditional activation or inactivation of genes involves the use of Cre recombinase to remove loxP-flanked segments of DNA. We have studied the effects of delivering Cre to the hippocampus and neocortex of adult mice by injecting replication-deficient adeno-associated virus (AAV) and lentiviral (LV) vectors into discrete regions of the forebrain.
Recombinant AAV-Cre, AAV-GFP (green fluorescent protein) and LV-Cre-EGFP (enhanced GFP) were made with the transgene controlled by the cytomegalovirus promoter. Infecting 293T cells in vitro with AAV-Cre and LV-Cre-EGFP resulted in transduction of most cells as shown by GFP fluorescence and Cre immunoreactivity. Injections of submicrolitre quantities of LV-Cre-EGFP and mixtures of AAV-Cre with AAV-GFP into the neocortex and hippocampus of adult Rosa26 reporter mice resulted in strong Cre and GFP expression in the dentate gyrus and moderate to strong labelling in specific regions of the hippocampus and in the neocortex, mainly in neurons. The pattern of expression of Cre and GFP obtained with AAV and LV vectors was very similar. X-gal staining showed that Cre-mediated recombination had occurred in neurons in the same regions of the brain, starting at 3 days post-injection. No obvious toxic effects of Cre expression were detected even after four weeks post-injection.
AAV and LV vectors are capable of delivering Cre to neurons in discrete regions of the adult mouse brain and producing recombination.
We have previously shown that the atypical methylxanthine, propentofylline, reduces mechanical allodynia after peripheral nerve transection in a rodent model of neuropathy. In the present study, we sought to determine whether propentofylline-induced glial modulation alters spinal glutamate transporters, GLT-1 and GLAST in vivo, which may contribute to reduced behavioral hypersensitivity after nerve injury. In order to specifically examine the expression of the spinal glutamate transporters, a novel line of double transgenic GLT-1-eGFP/GLAST-DsRed promoter mice was used. Adult mice received propentofylline (10 mg/kg) or saline via intraperitoneal injection starting 1-hour prior to L5-spinal nerve transection and then daily for 12 days. Mice receiving saline exhibited punctate expression of both eGFP (GLT-1 promoter activation) and DsRed (GLAST promoter activation) in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, which was decreased ipsilateral to nerve injury on day 12. Propentofylline administration reinstated promoter activation on the injured side as evidenced by an equal number of eGFP (GLT-1) and DsRed (GLAST) puncta in both dorsal horns. As demonstrated in previous studies, propentofylline induced a concomitant reversal of L5 spinal nerve transection-induced expression of Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP). The ability of propentofylline to alter glial glutamate transporters highlights the importance of controlling aberrant glial activation in neuropathic pain and suggests one possible mechanism for the anti-allodynic action of this drug.
Spinal glia; Neuropathic pain; Neuroimmune; Peripheral nerve injury; Mice
Embryonic neuroepithelia and adult subventricular zone (SVZ) stem and progenitor cells express nestin. We characterized a transgenic line that expresses enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) specified to neural tissue by the second intronic enhancer of the nestin promoter that had several novel features. During embryogenesis, the dorsal telencephalon contained many and the ventral telencephalon few eGFP+ cells. eGFP+ cells were found in postnatal and adult neurogenic regions. eGFP+ cells in the SVZ expressed multiple phenotype markers, glial fibrillary acidic protein, Dlx, and neuroblast-specific molecules suggesting the transgene is expressed through the lineage. eGFP+ cell numbers increased in the SVZ after cortical injury, suggesting this line will be useful in probing postinjury neurogenesis. In non-neurogenic regions, eGFP was strongly expressed in oligodendrocyte progenitors, but not in astrocytes, even when they were reactive. This eGFP+ mouse will facilitate studies of proliferative neuroepithelia and adult neurogenesis, as well as of parenchymal oligodendrocytes.
The neuron-astrocyte synaptic complex is a fundamental operational unit of the nervous system. Astroglia play a central role in the regulation of synaptic glutamate, via neurotransmitter transport by GLT1/EAAT2. The astroglial mechanisms underlying this essential neuron-glial communication are not known. Here we show that presynaptic terminals are sufficient and necessary for GLT1/EAAT2 transcriptional activation and have identified the molecular pathway that regulates astroglial responses to presynaptic input. Presynaptic terminals regulate astroglial GLT1/EAAT2 via kappa B-motif binding phosphoprotein (KBBP), the mouse homologue of human heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein K (hnRNP K), which binds to an essential element of GLT1/EAAT2 promoter. This neuron-stimulated factor is required for GLT1/EATT2 transcriptional activation and is responsible for astroglial alterations in neural injury. Denervation of neuron-astrocyte signaling in vivo, by acute corticospinal tract transection, ricin-induced motor neuron death, or chronic neurodegeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) all result in reduced astroglial KBBP expression and transcriptional dysfunction of astroglial transporter expression. Our studies indicate that presynaptic elements dynamically coordinate normal astroglial function and also provide a fundamental signaling mechanism by which altered neuronal function and injury leads to dysregulated astroglia in CNS disease.
The study of germ cell-specific gene regulation in vitro is challenging. Here we report that the promoter of the oocyte-specific gene, Gdf9, is active in a population of cultured murine embryonic stem cells (ES) which have a phenotype resembling ooocytes. The promoter region of the murine Gdf9 coupled to enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) was stably transfected into XX mouse ES cells. eGFP was expressed only in oocytes of chimeric mice generated from the transfected XX ES cells. The transfected ES cells were examined when cultured on feeder layers or as embryoid bodies. Large eGFP-positive cells, surrounded by a structure resembling a zona pellucida appeared transiently in cultures of the ES cells on feeder layers. Surprisingly, they were detectable on days 1 and 2 of culture but virtually absent on day 3. Addition of leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) to the media significantly increased the number of eGFP-positive cels resembling oocytes. Quantitative real-time PCR demonstrated a parallel increase in Gdf9 and Zp3 mRNA with changes in the abundance of eGFP-positive cells. In embryoid body cultures, eGFP-positive cells appeared transiently and then re-appeared in regional clusters after 30−45 days of culture. These findings demonstrate that a population of cultured murine ES cells contain the transcriptional machinery to drive expression of an oocyte-specific gene, and that those cells phenotypically resemble oocytes.
Embryonic Stem cells; Gdf9; oocyte; leukemia inhibitory factor
Transgenic mice expressing eGFP under population specific promoters are widely used in neuroscience to identify specific subsets of neurons in situ and as sensors of neuronal activity in vivo. Mice expressing eGFP from a bacterial artificial chromosome under the Nr4a1 promoter have high expression within the basal ganglia, particularly within the striosome compartments and striatal-like regions of the extended amygdala (bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, striatal fundus, central amygdaloid nucleus and intercalated cells). Grossly, eGFP expression is inverse to the matrix marker calbindin 28K and overlaps with mu-opioid receptor immunoreactivity in the striatum. This pattern of expression is similar to Drd1, but not Drd2, dopamine receptor driven eGFP expression in structures targeted by medium spiny neuron afferents. Striosomal expression is strong developmentally where Nr4a1-eGFP expression overlaps with Drd1, TrkB, tyrosine hydroxylase and phospho-ERK, but not phospho-CREB, immunoreactivity in “dopamine islands”. Exposure of adolescent mice to methylphenidate resulted in an increase in eGFP in both compartments in the dorsolateral striatum but eGFP expression remained brighter in the striosomes. To address the role of activity in Nr4a1-eGFP expression, primary striatal cultures were prepared from neonatal mice and treated with forskolin, BDNF, SKF-83822 or high extracellular potassium and eGFP was measured fluorometrically in lysates. eGFP was induced in both neurons and contaminating glia in response to forskolin but SKF-83822, brain derived neurotrophic factor and depolarization increased eGFP in neuronal-like cells selectively. High levels of eGFP were primarily associated with Drd1+ neurons in vitro detected by immunofluorescence; however ∼15% of the brightly expressing cells contained punctate met-enkephalin immunoreactivity. The Nr4a1-GFP mouse strain will be a useful model for examining the connectivity, physiology, activity and development of the striosome system.
The POU-domain transcription POU4F3 is expressed in the sensory cells of the inner ear. Expression begins shortly after commitment to the hair cell (HC) fate, and continues throughout life. It is required for terminal HC differentiation and survival. To explore regulation of the murine Pou4f3 gene, we linked enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) to 8.5 kb of genomic sequence 5’ to the start codon in transgenic mice. eGFP was uniformly present in all embryonic and neonatal HCs. Expression of eGFP was also observed in developing Merkel cells and olfactory neurons as well as adult inner and vestibular HCs, mimicking the normal expression pattern of POU4F3 protein, with the exception of adult outer HCs. Apparently ectopic expression was observed in developing inner ear neurons. On a Pou4f3 null background, the transgene produced expression in embryonic HCs which faded soon after birth both in vivo and in vitro. Pou4f3 null HCs treated with caspase 3 and 9 inhibitors survived longer than untreated HCs, but still showed reduced expression of eGFP. The results suggest the existence of separate enhancers for different HC types, as well as strong autoregulation of the Pou4f3 gene. Bioinformatic analysis of four divergent mammalian species revealed three highly-conserved regions within the transgene: 400 bp immediately 5’ to the Pou4f3 ATG, a short sequence at -1.3 kb, and a longer region at -8.2 to -8.5 kb. The latter contained E-box motifs that bind bHLH transcription factors, including motifs activated by ATOH1. Co-transfection of HEK293 or VOT-E36 cells with ATOH1 and the transgene as a reporter enhanced eGFP expression when compared to the transgene alone. Chromatin immunoprecipitation of the three highly conserved regions revealed binding of ATOH1 to the distal-most conserved region. The results are consistent with regulation of Pou4f3 in HCs by ATOH1 at a distal enhancer.
autoregulation; gene expression; hair cell; POU4F3
NG2 cells are an abundant glial cell type in the adult brain. They are distinct from astrocytes, mature oligodendrocytes, and microglia. NG2 cells generate oligodendrocytes and a subpopulation of protoplasmic astrocytes in the ventral forebrain during development. To determine whether NG2 cells generate reactive astrocytes in the lesioned brain, stab wound injury was created in adult NG2creBAC:ZEG double transgenic mice, in which enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) is expressed in NG2 cells and their progeny, and the phenotype of the EGFP+ cells was analyzed at 10 and 30 days post lesion (dpl). The majority (>90%) of the reactive astrocytes surrounding the lesion that expressed glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) lacked EGFP expression, and conversely the majority (>90%) of EGFP+ cells were GFAP-negative. However, 8% of EGFP+ cells co-expressed GFAP at 10 dpl. Most of these EGFP+GFAP+ cells were morphologically distinct from hypertrophic reactive astrocytes and exhibited weak GFAP expression. NG2 was detected in a fraction of the EGFP+GFAP+ cells found at 10 dpl. By 30 dpl the number of EGFP+GFAP+ cells had decreased more than four-fold from 10 dpl. A similar transient appearance of EGFP+GFAP+ cells with simple morphology was observed in NG2creER™:ZEG double transgenic mice in which EGFP expression had been induced in NG2 cells prior to injury. NG2 cell-specific deletion of the oligodendrocyte lineage transcription factor Olig2 using NG2creER™:Olig2fl/fl:ZEG triple transgenic mice did not increase the number of EGFP+ reactive astrocytes. These findings suggest that NG2 cells are not a major source of reactive astrocytes in the neocortex.
NG2; reactive astrocyte; oligodendrocyte
Adeno-associated virus (AAV) has distinct advantages over other viral vectors in delivering genes of interest to the brain. AAV mainly transfects neurons, produces no toxicity or inflammatory responses, and yields long-term transgene expression. In this study, we first tested the hypothesis that AAV serotype 2 (AAV2) selectively transfects neurons but not glial cells in the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) by examining expression of the reporter gene, enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP), in the rat NTS after unilateral microinjection of AAV2eGFP into NTS. Expression of eGFP was observed in 1–2 cells in the NTS 1 day after injection. The number of transduced cells and the intensity of eGFP fluorescence increased from day 1 to day 28 and decreased on day 60. The majority (92.9 ± 7.0%) of eGFP expressing NTS cells contained immunoreactivity for the neuronal marker, protein gene product 9.5, but not that for the glial marker, glial fibrillary acidic protein. We observed eGFP expressing neurons and fibers in the nodose ganglia (NG) both ipsilateral and contralateral to the injection. In addition, eGFP expressing fibers were present in both ipsilateral and contralateral nucleus ambiguus (NA), caudal ventrolateral medulla (CVLM) and rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM). Having established that AAV2 was able to transduce a gene into NTS neurons, we constructed AAV2 vectors that contained cDNA for neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) and examined nNOS expression in the rat NTS after injection of this vector into the area. Results from RT-PCR, Western analysis, and immunofluorescent histochemistry indicated that nNOS expression was elevated in rat NTS that had been injected with AAV2nNOS vectors. Therefore, we conclude that AAV2 is an effective viral vector in chronically transducing NTS neurons and that AAV2nNOS can be used as a specific gene transfer tool to study the role of nNOS in CNS neurons.
Adeno-associated virus; Enhanced green fluorescent protein; Gene transfer; Immunofluorescent histochemistry; Neuronal nitric oxide synthase; Nucleus tractus solitarii; RT-PCR; Western blot
Development of a functional retina depends on regulated differentiation of several types of neurons and generation of a highly complex network between the different types of neurons. In addition, each type of retinal neuron includes several distinct morphological types. Very little is known about the mechanisms responsible for generating this diversity of retinal neurons, which may also display specific patterns of regional distribution.
In a screen in zebrafish, using a trapping vector carrying an engineered yeast Gal4 transcription activator and a UAS:eGFP reporter cassette, we have identified two transgenic lines of zebrafish co-expressing eGFP and Gal4 in specific subsets of retinal bipolar cells. The eGFP-labelling facilitated analysis of axon terminals within the inner plexiform layer of the adult retina and showed that the fluorescent bipolar cells correspond to previously defined morphological types. Strong regional restriction of eGFP-positive bipolar cells to the central part of the retina surrounding the optic nerve was observed in adult zebrafish. Furthermore, we achieved specific ablation of the labelled bipolar cells in 5 days old larvae, using a bacterial nitroreductase gene under Gal4-UAS control in combination with the prodrug metronidazole. Following prodrug treatment, nitroreductase expressing bipolar cells were efficiently ablated without affecting surrounding retina architecture, and recovery occurred within a few days due to increased generation of new bipolar cells.
This report shows that enhancer trapping can be applied to label distinct morphological types of bipolar cells in the zebrafish retina. The genetic labelling of these cells yielded co-expression of a modified Gal4 transcription activator and the fluorescent marker eGFP. Our work also demonstrates the potential utility of the Gal4-UAS system for induction of other transgenes, including a bacterial nitroreductase fusion gene, which can facilitate analysis of bipolar cell differentiation and how the retina recovers from specific ablation of these cells.
The astrocyte glutamate transporter, GLT1, is responsible for the vast majority of glutamate uptake in the adult central nervous system (CNS), thereby regulating extracellular glutamate homeostasis and preventing excitotoxicity. Glutamate dysregulation plays a central role in outcome following traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). To determine the role of GLT1 in secondary cell loss following SCI, mice heterozygous for the GLT1 astrocyte glutamate transporter (GLT1+/−) and wild-type mice received thoracic crush SCI. Compared to wild-type controls, GLT1+/− mice had an attenuated recovery in hindlimb motor function, increased lesion size, and decreased tissue sparing. GLT1+/− mice showed a decrease in intraspinal GLT1 protein and functional glutamate uptake compared to wild-type mice, accompanied by increased apoptosis and neuronal loss following crush injury. These results suggest that astrocyte GLT1 plays a role in limiting secondary cell death following SCI, and also show that compromise of key astrocyte functions has significant effects on outcome following traumatic CNS injury. These findings also suggest that increasing intraspinal GLT1 expression may represent a therapeutically relevant target for SCI treatment.
secondary injury; GLT1+/− mice; crush injury; glutamate uptake; excitotoxicity
Sulforhodamine 101 (SR101) is widely used as a marker of astrocytes. In this study we investigated labeling of astrocytes by SR101 in acute slices from the ventrolateral medulla and the hippocampus of transgenic mice expressing EGFP under the control of the astrocyte-specific human GFAP promoter. While SR101 efficiently and specifically labeled EGFP-expressing astrocytes in hippocampus, we found that the same staining procedure failed to label astrocytes efficiently in the ventrolateral medulla. Although carbenoxolone is able to decrease the SR101-labeling of astrocytes in the hippocampus, it is unlikely that SR101 is taken up via gap-junction hemichannels because mefloquine, a blocker for pannexin and connexin hemichannels, was unable to prevent SR101-labeling of hippocampal astrocytes. However, SR101-labeling of the hippocampal astrocytes was significantly reduced by substrates of organic anion transport polypeptides, including estron-3-sulfate and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, suggesting that SR101 is actively transported into hippocampal astrocytes.
Mice carrying bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) transgenes have become important tools for neuroscientists, providing a powerful means of dissecting complex neural circuits in the brain. Recently, it was reported that one popular line of these mice – mice possessing a BAC transgene with a D2 dopamine receptor (Drd2) promoter construct coupled to an enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) reporter – had abnormal striatal gene expression, physiology and motor behavior. Unlike most of the work using BAC mice, this interesting study relied upon mice backcrossed on the outbred Swiss Webster strain that were homozygous for the Drd2-eGFP BAC transgene.The experiments reported here were conducted to determine whether mouse strain or zygosity was a factor in the reported abnormalities. As reported, SW mice were very sensitive to transgene expression. However, in more commonly used inbred strains of mice (C57BL/6, FVB/N) that were hemizygous for the transgene, the Drd2-eGFP BAC transgene did not alter striatal gene expression, physiology or motor behavior. Thus, the use of inbred strains of mice which are hemizygous for the Drd2 BAC transgene provide a reliable tool for studying basal ganglia function.
Astrocytes express the sodium-dependent glutamate transporters GLAST and GLT-1, which are critical to maintain low extracellular glutamate concentrations. Here, we analyzed changes in their expression and function following a mechanical lesion in the CA1 area of organotypic hippocampal slices. 6-7 days after lesion, a glial scar had formed along the injury site, containing strongly activated astrocytes with increased GFAP and S100β immunoreactivity, enlarged somata, and reduced capability for uptake of SR101. Astrocytes in the scar's periphery were swollen as well, but showed only moderate upregulation of GFAP and S100β and efficiently took up SR101. In the scar, clusters of GLT-1 and GLAST immunoreactivity colocalized with GFAP-positive fibers. Apart from these, GLT-1 immunoreactivity declined with increasing distance from the scar, whereas GLAST expression appeared largely uniform. Sodium imaging in reactive astrocytes indicated that glutamate uptake was strongly reduced in the scar but maintained in the periphery. Our results thus show that moderately reactive astrocytes in the lesion periphery maintain overall glutamate transporter expression and function. Strongly reactive astrocytes in the scar, however, display clusters of GLAST and GLT-1 immunoreactivity together with reduced glutamate transport activity. This reduction might contribute to increased extracellular glutamate concentrations and promote excitotoxic cell damage at the lesion site.
Astrocytes play a major role in the removal of glutamate from the extracellular compartment. This clearance limits the glutamate receptor activation and affects the synaptic response. This function of the astrocyte is dependent on its positioning around the synapse, as well as on the level of expression of its high-affinity glutamate transporters, GLT1 and GLAST. Using Western blot analysis and serial section electron microscopy, we studied how a change in sensory activity affected these parameters in the adult cortex. Using mice, we found that 24 h of whisker stimulation elicited a 2-fold increase in the expression of GLT1 and GLAST in the corresponding cortical column of the barrel cortex. This returns to basal levels 4 d after the stimulation was stopped, whereas the expression of the neuronal glutamate transporter EAAC1 remained unaltered throughout. Ultrastructural analysis from the same region showed that sensory stimulation also causes a significant increase in the astrocytic envelopment of excitatory synapses on dendritic spines. We conclude that a period of modified neuronal activity and synaptic release of glutamate leads to an increased astrocytic coverage of the bouton–spine interface and an increase in glutamate transporter expression in astrocytic processes.
After increased sensory activity in the somatosensory cortex, astrocytic processes expand to increase their coverage of the bouton-spine interface, and expression of astrocytic glutamate transporters is up-regulated as well.
Unbiased methods to assess the firing activity of individual neurons in the neocortex have revealed that a large proportion of cells fire at extremely low rates (<0.1 Hz), both in their spontaneous and evoked activity. Thus, firing in neocortical networks appears to be dominated by a small population of highly active neurons. Here we use a fosGFP transgenic mouse to examine the properties of cells with a recent history of elevated activity. FosGFP-expressing layer 2/3 pyramidal cells fired at higher rates compared to fosGFP− neurons, both in vivo and in vitro. Elevated activity could be attributed to increased excitatory and decreased inhibitory drive to fosGFP+ neurons. Paired-cell recordings indicated that fosGFP+ neurons had a greater likelihood of being connected to each other. These findings indicate that highly active, interconnected neuronal ensembles are present in the neocortex and suggest these cells may play a role in the encoding of sensory information.