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
GLT-1 eGFP BAC reporter transgenic adult mice were used to detect GLT-1 gene expression in individual cells of CA1, CA3 and SI, and eGFP fluorescence was measured to analyze quantitatively GLT-1 promoter activity in different cells of neocortex and hippocampus. Virtually all GFAP+ astrocytes were eGFP+; we also found that about 80% of neurons in CA3 pyramidal layer, 10–70% of neurons in I-VI layers of SI and rare neurons in all strata of CA1 and in strata oriens and radiatum of CA3 were eGFP+. Analysis of eGFP intensity showed that astrocytes had a higher GLT-1 promoter activity in SI than in CA1 and CA3, and that neurons had the highest levels of GLT-1 promoter activity in CA3 stratum pyramidale and in layer VI of SI. Finally, we observed that the intensity of GLT-1 promoter activity in neurons is 1–20% of that measured in astrocytes. These results showed that in the hippocampus and neocortex GLT-1 promoter activity is observed in astrocytes and neurons, detailed the distribution of GLT-1 expressing neurons, and indicated that GLT-1 promoter activity in both astrocytes and neurons varies in different brain regions.
glutamate transporters; GLT-1/EAAT2; neurons; astrocytes; hippocampus; neocortex
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
Astrocytes remove glutamate from the synaptic cleft via specific transporters, and impaired glutamate reuptake may promote excitotoxic neuronal injury. In a model of viral encephalomyelitis caused by neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV), mice develop acute paralysis and spinal motor neuron degeneration inhibited by the AMPA receptor antagonist, NBQX. To investigate disrupted glutamate homeostasis in the spinal cord, expression of the main astroglial glutamate transporter, GLT-1, was examined. GLT-1 levels declined in the spinal cord during acute infection while GFAP expression was preserved. There was simultaneous production of inflammatory cytokines at this site, and susceptible animals treated with drugs that blocked IL-1β release also limited paralysis and prevented the loss of GLT-1 expression. Conversely, infection of resistant mice that develop mild paralysis following NSV challenge showed higher baseline GLT-1 levels as well as lower production of IL-1β and relatively preserved GLT-1 expression in the spinal cord compared to susceptible hosts. Finally, spinal cord GLT-1 expression was largely maintained following infection of IL-1β-deficient animals. Together, these data show that IL-1β inhibits astrocyte glutamate transport in the spinal cord during viral encephalomyelitis. They provide one of the strongest in vivo links between innate immune responses and the development of excitotoxicity demonstrated to date.
glutamate transporters; interleukin-1β; viral encephalomyelitis; motor neuron; excitotoxicity
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
Here we examine the molecular basis for the known preferential expression of rabbit aldehyde dehydrogenase class 1 (ALDH1A1) in the cornea. The rabbit Aldh1a1 promoter-firefly luciferase reporter transgene (−3519 to +43) was expressed preferentially in corneal cells in transfection tests and in transgenic mice, with an expression pattern resembling that of rabbit Aldh1a1. The 5′ flanking region of the rabbit Aldh1a1 gene resembled that in the human gene (60.2%) more closely than that in the mouse (46%) or rat (51.5%) genes. We detected three xenobiotic response elements (XREs) and one E-box consensus sequence in the rabbit Aldh1a1 upstream region; these elements are prevalent in other highly expressed corneal genes and can mediate stimulation by dioxin and repression by CoCl2, which simulates hypoxia. The rabbit Aldh1a1 promoter was stimulated fourfold by dioxin in human hepatoma cells and repressed threefold by CoCl2 treatment in rabbit corneal stromal and epithelial cells. Cotransfection, mutagenesis, and gel retardation experiments implicated the hypoxia-inducible factor 3α/aryl hydrocarbon nuclear translocator heterodimer for Aldh1a1 promoter activation via the XREs and stimulated by retinoic acid protein 13 for promoter repression via the E-box. These experiments suggest that XREs, E-boxes, and PAS domain/basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors (bHLH-PAS) contribute to preferential rabbit Aldh1a1 promoter activity in the cornea, implicating hypoxia-related pathways.
Deficiency in mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2), a tetrameric enzyme, results from inheriting one or two ALDH2*2 alleles. This allele encodes a protein subunit with a lysine for glutamate substitution at position 487 and is dominant over the wild-type allele, ALDH2*1. The ALDH2*2-encoded subunit (ALDH2K) reduces the activity of ALDH2 enzyme in cell lines expressing the wild-type subunit (ALDH2E). In addition to this effect on the enzyme activity, we now report that ALDH2*2 heterozygotes had lower levels of ALDH2 immunoreactive protein in autopsy liver samples. The half-lives of ALDH2 protein in HeLa cell lines expressing ALDH2*1, ALDH2*2, or both were determined by the rate of loss of immunoreactive protein after inhibition of protein synthesis with puromycin and by pulse-chase experiments. By either measure, ALDH2E enzyme was very stable, with a half-life of at least 22 h. ALDH2K enzyme had an enzyme half-life of only 14 h. In cells expressing both subunits, most of the subunits assemble as heterotetramers, and these enzymes had a half-life of 13 h. Thus, the effect of ALDH2K on enzyme turnover is dominant. These studies indicate that the ALDH2*2 allele exerts its dominant effect both by interfering with the catalytic activity of the enzyme and by increasing its turnover. This represents the first example of a dominantly acting allele with this effect on a mitochondrial enzyme's turnover.
Signaling mechanisms that regulate astrocyte reactivity and scar formation after spinal cord injury (SCI) are not well defined. We used the Cre-loxP system under regulation of the mouse GFAP promoter to conditionally delete the cytokine and growth factor signal transducer, STAT3, from astrocytes. After SCI in GFAP-Cre-Reporter mice, over 99% of spinal cord cells that exhibited Cre activity as detected by reporter protein expression were GFAP-expressing astrocytes. Conditional deletion of STAT3 (STAT3-CKO) from astrocytes in GFAP-Cre-loxP mice was confirmed in vivo and in vitro. In uninjured adult STAT3-CKO mice, astrocytes appeared morphologically similar to those in STAT3+/+ mice except for a partially reduced expression of GFAP. In STAT3+/+ mice, activated STAT3 (pSTAT3) was not detectable in astrocytes in uninjured spinal cord, and pSTAT3 was markedly up regulated after SCI in astrocytes and other cell types near the injury. Mice with STAT3-CKO from astrocytes exhibited attenuated up-regulation of GFAP, failure of astrocyte hypertrophy and pronounced disruption of astroglial scar formation after SCI. These changes were associated with increased spread of inflammation, increased lesion volume and partially attenuated motor recovery over the first 28 days after SCI. These findings indicate that STAT3 signaling is a critical regulator of certain aspects of reactive astrogliosis and provide further evidence that scar-forming astrocytes restrict the spread of inflammatory cells after SCI.
Astrocyte [Astroglia]; Cytokine; Gfa [Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein]; Histochemistry; Immunoreactivity; Inflammation; Spinal cord Injury
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.
High activity of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) is characteristic of normal and cancerous stem cells. Recently, high ALDH expression was shown to be associated with poor prognosis in uterine endometrial adenocarcinoma. The population with high ALDH activity (ALDH-hi) was more invasive, anti-apoptotic, and tumorigenic than that with low activity (ALDH-lo). Here, the transcriptional regulation of ALDH1A1 gene, which is responsible for ALDH activity, was examined in endometrial adenocarcinoma. The promoter region of ALDH1A1 contained CCAAT and octamer binding motifs, and their mutation diminished promoter activity. Among CCAAT-recognizing transcription factors, nuclear factor YA (NFYA) was involved in ALDH1A1 transcription. Two alternatively spliced isoforms of NFYA (NFYA-long and NFYA-short) have been reported. The sorted ALDH-hi population of endometrial adenocarcinoma preferentially expressed NFYA-short, whereas ALDH-lo dominantly expressed NFYA-long. NFYA-short possessed higher transactivation ability than did NFYA-long. In addition, an additive effect of NFYA with Oct-1, which recognizes octamer binding motif, was observed in ALDH1A1 transactivation. These results indicate that the alternatively spliced isoforms of NFYA, in cooperation with Oct-1, play an important role in ALDH1A1 expression in endometrial adenocarcinoma.
aldehyde dehydrogenase; nuclear factor Y; alternatively spliced isoform; transcriptional regulation; endometrial adenocarcinoma
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
Cumulating evidence has demonstrated that mu opioid receptor (MOR) agonists promote spinal glial activation, lead to synthesis and release of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines, and contribute to opioid-induced hyperalgesia and development of opioid tolerance and dependence. However, whether these MOR agonists directly or indirectly act on spinal cord astrocytes and microglial cells in vivo is unclear. In the present study, by combining the techniques of in situ hybridization of MOR mRNA with immunohistochemistry of GFAP (an astrocyte marker) and Iba1 (a microglial marker), we examined expression and distribution of GFAP, Iba1, and MOR mRNA in the spinal cord of rats under chronic morphine tolerance conditions. Twice daily intrathecal injections of morphine for 7 days reduced morphine analgesic effect and increased both GFAP and Iba1 immunostaining densities in spinal cord. Unexpectedly, neither GFAP nor Iba1 colocalized with MOR mRNA in spinal cord cells. Our findings indicate that MOR expression is absent from spinal cord astrocytes and microglia, suggesting that these cell types are indirectly activated by MOR agonists under chronic opioid tolerance conditions.
mu opioid receptor; astrocyte; microglial cells; expression; spinal cord; morphine tolerance
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
Fibroblast growth factor-2 is a pleiotrophic cytokine with neurotrophic and gliogenic properties. It is known to regulate CNS injury responses, which include transformation of reactive astrocytes, neurogenesis, and promotion of neurotrophic activities. In the brain, it is localized in astrocytes and discrete neuronal populations. Following both central and peripheral nervous system injury, astrocytes become reactive. These activated cells undergo hypertrophy. A key indicator of astrocyte activation is the increased accumulation of intermediate filaments composed of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). Following physical insult of brain or spinal cord, reactive astrocytes show increased FGF-2 immunoreactivity. Thus, FGF-2 appears to participate in astrocytic differentiation and proliferation and a good candidate for astrocytic function regulation in healthy, injured, or diseased CNS. To further investigate the cellular mechanisms underlying FGF-2 restorative actions and to analyze the changes within astroglial cells, we studied the localization of GFAP and FGF-2 in adult intact and injured Pleurodeles CNS. Our results show that spinal cord injury triggers a significant increase in FGF-2 immunoreactivity in reactive astrocytes at sites of insult. In addition, these results were time-dependent. Increase in FGF-2 immunoreactivity along the CNS axis, starting 1-week post-injury, was long-lasting extending to 6 weeks. This increase was accompanied by an increase in GFAP immunoreactivity in the same spatial pattern except in SC3 where its level was almost similar to sham-operated animals. Therefore, we suggest that FGF-2 may be involved in cell proliferation and/or astroglial cells differentiation after body spinal cord transection, and could thus play an important role in locomotion recovery.
fibroblast growth factor-2; nerve regeneration; Pleurodeles waltlii
In the central nervous system (CNS), the transcription factor nuclear factor (NF)-κB is a key regulator of inflammation and secondary injury processes. After trauma or disease, the expression of NF-κB–dependent genes is highly activated, leading to both protective and detrimental effects on CNS recovery. We demonstrate that selective inactivation of astroglial NF-κB in transgenic mice expressing a dominant negative (dn) form of the inhibitor of κBα under the control of an astrocyte-specific promoter (glial fibrillary acidic protein [GFAP]–dn mice) leads to a dramatic improvement in functional recovery 8 wk after contusive spinal cord injury (SCI). Histologically, GFAP mice exhibit reduced lesion volume and substantially increased white matter preservation. In parallel, they show reduced expression of proinflammatory chemokines and cytokines, such as CXCL10, CCL2, and transforming growth factor–β2, and of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans participating in the formation of the glial scar. We conclude that selective inhibition of NF-κB signaling in astrocytes results in protective effects after SCI and propose the NF-κB pathway as a possible new target for the development of therapeutic strategies for the treatment of SCI.
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.
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.
The mechanisms underlying the formation of the glial scar following injury are poorly understood. In this report, we demonstrate that following cortical injury Olig2 is upregulated in reactive astrocytes coincident with proliferation of these cells. Short-term lineage tracing studies with glial subtype-restricted transgenic reporter lines indicate that Olig2-expressing cells in the astroglial but not the oligodendroglial lineage are the essential source of reactive astrocytes. In addition, cortical Olig2 ablation results in a decrease in proliferation of reactive astrocytes in response to injury. Cell-type specific mutagenesis indicates that Olig2 ablation in GFAP+ astrocytes and their precursors rather than in neuronal or oligodendroglial cells is responsible for the reduction of reactive astrocyte proliferation. Thus, our studies suggest that Olig2 is critical for post-injury gliosis.
bHLH transcription factor; Olig2; conditional knockout mice; reactive astrocytes; proliferation; cortical injury
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.
Previous studies have reported elevated levels of biogenic aldehydes in the brains of patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). In the brain, aldehydes are primarily detoxified by aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH). Reduced ALDH1 expression in surviving midbrain dopamine neurons has been reported in brains of patients who died with PD. In addition, impaired complex I activity, which is well documented in PD, reduces the availability of the NAD+ co-factor required by multiple ALDH isoforms to catalyze the removal of biogenic aldehydes. We hypothesized that chronically decreased function of multiple aldehyde dehydrogenases consequent to exposure to environmental toxins and/or reduced ALDH expression, plays an important role in the pathophysiology of PD. To address this hypothesis, we generated mice null for Aldh1a1 and Aldh2, the two isoforms known to be expressed in substantia nigra dopamine neurons. Aldh1a1−/−×Aldh2−/− mice exhibited age-dependent deficits in motor performance assessed by gait analysis and by performance on an accelerating rotarod. Intraperitoneal administration of L-DOPA plus benserazide alleviated the deficits in motor performance. We observed a significant loss of neurons immunoreactive for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) in the substantia nigra and a reduction of dopamine and metabolites in the striatum of Aldh1a1−/−×Aldh2−/− mice. We also observed significant increases in biogenic aldehydes reported to be neurotoxic, including 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) and the aldehyde intermediate of dopamine metabolism, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde (DOPAL). These results support the hypothesis that impaired detoxification of biogenic aldehydes may be important in the pathophysiology of PD and suggest that Aldh1a1−/−×Aldh2−/− mice may be a useful animal model of PD.
Promoting brown adipose tissue (BAT) formation and function may reduce obesity. Recent data link retinoids to energy balance, but a specific role for retinoid metabolism in white versus brown fat is unknown. Retinaldehyde dehydrogenases (Aldhs), also known as aldehyde dehydrogenases, are rate-limiting enzymes that convert retinaldehyde (Rald) to retinoic acid. Here we show that Aldh1a1 is expressed predominately in white adipose tissue (WAT), including visceral depots in mice and humans. Deficiency of the Aldh1a1 gene induced a BAT-like transcriptional program in WAT that drove uncoupled respiration and adaptive thermogenesis. WAT-selective Aldh1a1 knockdown conferred this BAT program in obese mice, limiting weight gain and improving glucose homeostasis. Rald induced uncoupling protein-1 (Ucp1) mRNA and protein levels in white adipocytes by selectively activating the retinoic acid receptor (RAR), recruiting the coactivator PGC-1α and inducing Ucp1 promoter activity. These data establish Aldh1a1 and its substrate Rald as previously unrecognized determinants of adipocyte plasticity and adaptive thermogenesis, which may have potential therapeutic implications.
The glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) gene is alternatively spliced to give GFAP-α, the most abundant isoform, and seven other differentially expressed transcripts including GFAP-δ. GFAP-δ has an altered C-terminal domain that renders it incapable of self-assembly in vitro. When titrated with GFAP-α, assembly was restored providing GFAP-δ levels were kept low (∼10%). In a range of immortalized and transformed astrocyte derived cell lines and human spinal cord, we show that GFAP-δ is naturally part of the endogenous intermediate filaments, although levels were low (∼10%). This suggests that GFAP filaments can naturally accommodate a small proportion of assembly-compromised partners. Indeed, two other assembly-compromised GFAP constructs, namely enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP)-tagged GFAP and the Alexander disease–causing GFAP mutant, R416W GFAP both showed similar in vitro assembly characteristics to GFAP-δ and could also be incorporated into endogenous filament networks in transfected cells, providing expression levels were kept low. Another common feature was the increased association of αB-crystallin with the intermediate filament fraction of transfected cells. These studies suggest that the major physiological role of the assembly-compromised GFAP-δ splice variant is as a modulator of the GFAP filament surface, effecting changes in both protein– and filament–filament associations as well as Jnk phosphorylation.
Aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDHs) are a family of enzymes which catalyze the oxidation of reactive aldehydes to their corresponding carboxylic acids. Here we summarize molecular genetic and biochemical analyses of selected Arabidopsis
ALDH genes. Aldehyde molecules are very reactive and are involved in many metabolic processes but when they accumulate in excess they become toxic. Thus activity of aldehyde dehydrogenases is important in regulating the homeostasis of aldehydes. Overexpression of some ALDH genes demonstrated an improved abiotic stress tolerance. Despite the fact that several reports are available describing a role for specific ALDHs, their precise physiological roles are often still unclear. Therefore a number of genetic and biochemical tools have been generated to address the function with an emphasis on stress-related ALDHs. ALDHs exert their functions in different cellular compartments and often in a developmental and tissue specific manner. To investigate substrate specificity, catalytic efficiencies have been determined using a range of substrates varying in carbon chain length and degree of carbon oxidation. Mutational approaches identified amino acid residues critical for coenzyme usage and enzyme activities.
aldehyde dehydrogenases; aminoaldehyde dehydrogenases; betaine aldehyde dehydrogenases; coenzyme binding; enzyme activities; stress tolerance
The lack of axonal regeneration in the central nervous system is attributed among other factors to the formation of a glial scar. This cellular structure is mainly composed of reactive astrocytes that overexpress two intermediate filament proteins, the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and vimentin. Indeed, in vitro, astrocytes lacking GFAP or both GFAP and vimentin were shown to be the substrate for increased neuronal plasticity. Moreover, double knockout mice lacking both GFAP and vimentin presented lower levels of glial reactivity in vivo, significant axonal regrowth and improved functional recovery in comparison with wild-type mice after spinal cord hemisection. From these results, our objective was to develop a novel therapeutic strategy for axonal regeneration, based on the targeted suppression of astroglial reactivity and scarring by lentiviral-mediated RNA-interference (RNAi).
Methods and Findings
In this study, we constructed two lentiviral vectors, Lv-shGFAP and Lv-shVIM, which allow efficient and stable RNAi-mediated silencing of endogenous GFAP or vimentin in vitro. In cultured cortical and spinal reactive astrocytes, the use of these vectors resulted in a specific, stable and highly significant decrease in the corresponding protein levels. In a second model — scratched primary cultured astrocytes — Lv-shGFAP, alone or associated with Lv-shVIM, decreased astrocytic reactivity and glial scarring. Finally, in a heterotopic coculture model, cortical neurons displayed higher survival rates and increased neurite growth when cultured with astrocytes in which GFAP and vimentin had been invalidated by lentiviral-mediated RNAi.
Lentiviral-mediated knockdown of GFAP and vimentin in astrocytes show that GFAP is a key target for modulating reactive gliosis and monitoring neuron/glia interactions. Thus, manipulation of reactive astrocytes with the Lv-shGFAP vector constitutes a promising therapeutic strategy for increasing glial permissiveness and permitting axonal regeneration after central nervous system lesions.
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.