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1.  Positive autoregulation of GDNF levels in the ventral tegmental area mediates long-lasting inhibition of excessive alcohol consumption 
Translational psychiatry  2011;2011(1):e60.
Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is an essential growth factor for the survival and maintenance of the midbrain dopaminergic (DA-ergic) neurons. Activation of the GDNF pathway in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), where the GDNF receptors are expressed, produces a long-lasting suppression of excessive alcohol consumption in rats. Previous studies conducted in the DA-ergic-like cells, SHSY5Y, revealed that GDNF positively regulates its own expression, leading to a long-lasting activation of the GDNF signaling pathway. Here we determined whether GDNF activates a positive autoregulatory feedback loop in vivo within the VTA, and if so, whether this mechanism underlies the long-lasting suppressive effects of the growth factor on excessive alcohol consumption. We found that a single infusion of recombinant GDNF (rGDNF; 10 μg) into the VTA induces a long-lasting local increase in GDNF mRNA and protein levels, which depends upon de novo transcription and translation of the polypeptide. Importantly, we report that the GDNF-mediated positive autoregulatory feedback loop accounts for the long-lasting inhibitory actions of GDNF in the VTA on excessive alcohol consumption. Specifically, the long-lasting suppressive effects of a single rGDNF infusion into the VTA on excessive alcohol consumption were prevented when protein synthesis was inhibited, as well as when the upregulation of GDNF expression was prevented using short hairpin RNA to focally knock down GDNF mRNA in the VTA. Our results could have implications for the development of long-lasting treatments for disorders in which GDNF has a beneficial role, including drug addiction, chronic stress and Parkinson’s disease.
doi:10.1038/tp.2011.57
PMCID: PMC3253655  PMID: 22238721
addiction; alcohol; GDNF; growth factors; ventral tegmental area
2.  Positive autoregulation of GDNF levels in the ventral tegmental area mediates long-lasting inhibition of excessive alcohol consumption 
Translational Psychiatry  2011;1(12):e60-.
Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is an essential growth factor for the survival and maintenance of the midbrain dopaminergic (DA-ergic) neurons. Activation of the GDNF pathway in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), where the GDNF receptors are expressed, produces a long-lasting suppression of excessive alcohol consumption in rats. Previous studies conducted in the DA-ergic-like cells, SHSY5Y, revealed that GDNF positively regulates its own expression, leading to a long-lasting activation of the GDNF signaling pathway. Here we determined whether GDNF activates a positive autoregulatory feedback loop in vivo within the VTA, and if so, whether this mechanism underlies the long-lasting suppressive effects of the growth factor on excessive alcohol consumption. We found that a single infusion of recombinant GDNF (rGDNF; 10 μg) into the VTA induces a long-lasting local increase in GDNF mRNA and protein levels, which depends upon de novo transcription and translation of the polypeptide. Importantly, we report that the GDNF-mediated positive autoregulatory feedback loop accounts for the long-lasting inhibitory actions of GDNF in the VTA on excessive alcohol consumption. Specifically, the long-lasting suppressive effects of a single rGDNF infusion into the VTA on excessive alcohol consumption were prevented when protein synthesis was inhibited, as well as when the upregulation of GDNF expression was prevented using short hairpin RNA to focally knock down GDNF mRNA in the VTA. Our results could have implications for the development of long-lasting treatments for disorders in which GDNF has a beneficial role, including drug addiction, chronic stress and Parkinson's disease.
doi:10.1038/tp.2011.57
PMCID: PMC3253655  PMID: 22238721
addiction; alcohol; GDNF; growth factors; ventral tegmental area
3.  Long-term expression of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor slows, but does not stop retinal degeneration in a model of retinitis pigmentosa 
Journal of neurochemistry  2012;122(5):1047-1053.
Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of diseases in which one of hundreds of mutations causes death of rod photoreceptor cells and then cones gradually die from oxidative damage. As different mutations cause rod cell death by different mechanisms, mutation-specific treatments are needed. Another approach is to use a neurotrophic factor to promote photoreceptor survival regardless of the mechanism of cell death, and previous studies have demonstrated encouraging short-term results with gene transfer of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). We generated rd10 mice with doxycycline-inducible expression of GDNF in photoreceptors (Tet/IRBP/GDNF-rd10 mice) or retinal pigmented epithelial cells (Tet/VMD2/GDNF-rd10 mice). In doxycycline-treated Tet/IRBP/GDNF-rd10 mice, there was a 9.3 × 104-fold increase in Gdnf mRNA at P35 and although it decreased over time, it was still increased by 9.4 × 103-fold at P70. Gdnf mRNA was increased 4.5 × 102-fold in doxycycline-treated Tet/VMD2/GDMF-rd10 mice at P35 and was not significantly decreased at P70. GDNF protein levels were increased about 2.3-fold at P35 and 30% at P70 in Tet/IRBP/GDNF-rd10 mice, and in Tet/VMD2/GDNF-rd10 mice they were increased 30% at P35 and not significantly increased at P70. Despite the difference in expression, Tet/IRBP/GDNF-rd10 and Tet/ VMD2/GDNF-rd10 mice had comparable significant increases in outer nuclear layer thickness and mean photopic and scotopic ERG b-wave amplitudes compared with rd10 mice at P35 which decreased, but was still significant at P70. Compared with rd10 mice, Tet/IRBP/GDNF-rd10 and Tet/ VMD2/GDNF-rd10 mice had comparable significant improvements in cone density at P50 that decreased, but were still significant at P70. These data indicate that despite a large difference in expression of GDNF, Tet/IRBP/GDNF-rd10 and Tet/VMD2/GDNF-rd10 provide comparable slowing of photoreceptor degeneration, but cannot stop the degeneration.
doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2012.07842.x
PMCID: PMC4049086  PMID: 22726126
apoptosis; cone photoreceptors; electroretinograms
4.  Peripheral expression and biological activities of GDNF, a new neurotrophic factor for avian and mammalian peripheral neurons 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1995;130(1):137-148.
Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a neurotrophic polypeptide, distantly related to transforming growth factor-beta (TGF- beta), originally isolated by virtue of its ability to induce dopamine uptake and cell survival in cultures of embryonic ventral midbrain dopaminergic neurons, and more recently shown to be a potent neurotrophic factor for motorneurons. The biological activities and distribution of this molecule outside the central nervous system are presently unknown. We report here on the mRNA expression, biological activities and initial receptor binding characterization of GDNF and a shorter spliced variant termed GDNF beta in different organs and peripheral neurons of the developing rat. Both GDNF mRNA forms were found to be most highly expressed in developing skin, whisker pad, kidney, stomach and testis. Lower expression was also detected in developing skeletal muscle, ovary, lung, and adrenal gland. Developing spinal cord, superior cervical ganglion (SCG) and dorsal root ganglion (DRG) also expressed low levels of GDNF mRNA. Two days after nerve transection, GDNF mRNA levels increased dramatically in the sciatic nerve. Overall, GDNF mRNA expression was significantly higher in peripheral organs than in neuronal tissues. Expression of either GDNF mRNA isoform in insect cells resulted in the production of indistinguishable mature GDNF polypeptides. Purified recombinant GDNF promoted neurite outgrowth and survival of embryonic chick sympathetic neurons. GDNF produced robust bundle-like, fasciculated outgrowth from chick sympathetic ganglion explants. Although GDNF displayed only low activity on survival of newborn rat SCG neurons, this protein was found to increase the expression of vasoactive intestinal peptide and preprotachykinin-A mRNAs in cultured SCG neurons. GDNF also promoted survival of about half of the neurons in embryonic chick nodose ganglion and a small subpopulation of embryonic sensory neurons in chick dorsal root and rat trigeminal ganglia. Embryonic chick sympathetic neurons expressed receptors for GDNF with Kd 1-5 x 10(-9) M, as measured by saturation and displacement binding assays. Our findings indicate GDNF is a new neurotrophic factor for developing peripheral neurons and suggest possible non-neuronal roles for GDNF in the developing reproductive system.
PMCID: PMC2120511  PMID: 7790368
5.  The GDNF System Is Altered in Diverticular Disease – Implications for Pathogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66290.
Background & Aims
Absence of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) leads to intestinal aganglionosis. We recently demonstrated that patients with diverticular disease (DD) exhibit hypoganglionosis suggesting neurotrophic factor deprivation. Thus, we screened mRNA expression pattern of the GDNF system in DD and examined the effects of GDNF on cultured enteric neurons.
Methods
Colonic specimens obtained from patients with DD (n = 21) and controls (n = 20) were assessed for mRNA expression levels of the GDNF system (GDNF, GDNF receptors GFRα1 and RET). To identify the tissue source of GDNF and its receptors, laser-microdissected (LMD) samples of human myenteric ganglia and intestinal muscle layers were analyzed separately by qPCR. Furthermore, the effects of GDNF treatment on cultured enteric neurons (receptor expression, neuronal differentiation and plasticity) were monitored.
Results
mRNA expression of GDNF and its receptors was significantly down-regulated in the muscularis propria of patients with DD. LMD samples revealed high expression of GDNF in circular and longitudinal muscle layers, whereas GDNF receptors were also expressed in myenteric ganglia. GDNF treatment of cultured enteric neurons increased mRNA expression of its receptors and promoted neuronal differentiation and plasticity revealed by synaptophysin mRNA and protein expression.
Conclusions
Our results suggest that the GDNF system is compromised in DD. In vitro studies demonstrate that GDNF enhances expression of its receptors and promotes enteric neuronal differentiation and plasticity. Since patients with DD exhibit hypoganglionosis, we propose that the observed enteric neuronal loss in DD may be due to lacking neurotrophic support mediated by the GDNF system.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066290
PMCID: PMC3689736  PMID: 23805210
6.  GDNF-independent ureteric budding: role of PI3K-independent activation of AKT and FOSB/JUN/AP-1 signaling 
Biology Open  2013;2(9):952-959.
Summary
A significant fraction of mice deficient in either glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) or its co-receptors (Gfrα1, Ret), undergoes ureteric bud (UB) outgrowth leading to the formation of a rudimentary kidney. Previous studies using the isolated Wolffian duct (WD) culture indicate that activation of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptor signaling, together with suppression of BMP/Activin signaling, is critical for GDNF-independent WD budding (Maeshima et al., 2007). By expression analysis of embryonic kidney from Ret(−/−) mice, we found the upregulation of several FGFs, including FGF7. To examine the intracellular pathways, we then analyzed GDNF-dependent and GDNF-independent budding in the isolated WD culture. In both conditions, Akt activation was found to be important; however, whereas this occurred through PI3-kinase in GDNF-dependent budding, in the case of GDNF-independent budding, Akt activation was apparently via a PI3-kinase independent mechanism. Jnk signaling and the AP-1 transcription factor complex were also implicated in GDNF-independent budding. FosB, a binding partner of c-Jun in the formation of AP-1, was the most highly upregulated gene in the ret knockout kidney (in which budding had still occurred), and we found that its siRNA-mediated knockdown in isolated WDs also blocked GDNF-independent budding. Taken together with the finding that inhibition of Jnk signaling does not block Akt activation/phosphorylation in GDNF-independent budding, the data support necessary roles for both FosB/Jun/AP-1 signaling and PI3-kinase-independent activation of Akt in GDNF-independent budding. A model is proposed for signaling events that involve Akt and JNK working to regulate GDNF-independent WD budding.
doi:10.1242/bio.20135595
PMCID: PMC3773342  PMID: 24143282
Ureteric bud; Kidney development; Wolffian duct; AKT; Jun-Fos; JNK signaling; ret; Fibroblast growth factor
7.  PROTEIN KINASE A REGULATES GDNF/RET-DEPENDENT BUT NOT GDNF/RET-INDEPENDENT URETERIC BUD OUTGROWTH FROM THE WOLFFIAN DUCT 
Developmental biology  2010;347(2):337-347.
Embryonic kidney development begins with the outgrowth of the ureteric bud (UB) from the Wolffian duct (WD) into the adjacent metanephric mesenchyme (MM). Both a GDNF-dependent and GDNF-independent pathway have been identified. In vivo and in vitro, the GDNF-dependent pathway is inhibited by BMPs, one of the factors invoked to explain the limitation of UB formation in the unbudded regions of the WD surrounding the UB. However, the exact mechanism remains unknown. Here a previously described in vitro system that models UB budding from the WD was utilized to study this process. Because PKA activation has been shown to prevent migration, morphogenesis and tubulogenesis of epithelial cells (Santos et al., 1993), its activity in budded and non-budded portions of the GDNF-induced WD was analyzed. The level of PKA activity was 15-fold higher in the unbudded portions of the WD compared to budded portions, suggesting that PKA activity plays a key role in controlling the site of UB emergence. Using well-characterized PKA agonists and antagonists, we demonstrated that at various levels of the PKA-signaling hierarchy, PKA regulates UB outgrowth from the WD by suppressing budding events. This process appeared to be PKA-2 isoform specific, and mediated by changes in the duct rather than the surrounding mesenchyme. In addition, it was not due to changes in either the sorting of junctional proteins, cell death, or cell proliferation. Furthermore, the suppressive effect of cAMP on budding did not appear to be mediated by spread to adjacent cells via gap junctions. Conversely, antagonism of PKA activity stimulated UB outgrowth from the WD and resulted in both an increase in the number of buds per unit length of WD as well as a larger surface area per bud. Using microarrays, analysis of gene expression in GDNF-treated WDs in which the PKA pathway had been activated revealed a nearly 14-fold decrease in Ret, a receptor for GDNF. A smaller decrease in GFRα1. a co-receptor for GDNF, was also observed. Using Ret-null WDs, we were able to demonstrate that PKA regulated GDNF-dependent budding but not GDNF-independent pathway for WD budding. We also found that BMP2 was higher in unbudded regions of the GDNF-stimulated WD. Treatment of isolated WDs with BMP2 suppressed budding and resulted in a 3-fold increase in PKA activity. The data suggests that the suppression of budding by BMPs and possibly other factors in non-budded zones of the WD may be regulated in part by increased PKA activity, through downregulation of Ret/GFRα1 coreceptor expression.
doi:10.1016/j.ydbio.2010.08.029
PMCID: PMC2981800  PMID: 20816800
8.  GDNF is crucial for long-term maintenance of the nigrostriatal system 
Neuroscience  2010;171(4):1357-1366.
Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a potent factor for the ventral mesencephalic dopamine neurons. However, studies on the Gdnf gene deleted (Gdnf −/−) mouse have been limited to fetal tissue since these mice die prematurely. To evaluate long-term effects of Gdnf gene deletion, this study involves co-grafts of ventral mesencephalon (VM) and lateral ganglionic eminence (LGE) derived from different Gdnf genotypes. The VM/LGE co-grafts were evaluated at 3, 6, and 12 months for tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) -positive cell survival and nerve fiber formation in the LGE co-transplant, visualized by dopamine- and cyclic AMP-regulated phosphoprotein relative molecular mass 32,000 (DARPP-32) -immunoreactivity. Cell counts revealed no difference in TH-positive neurons between Gdnf genotypes at 3 months postgrafting. At 6 months, a significant reduction in cell number was observed in the Gdnf−/− grafts. In fact, in the majority of the Gdnf −/− VM/LGE transplant had degenerated. At 12 months, a reduction in cell number was seen in both Gdnf−/− and Gdnf+/− compared to wildtype transplants. In the Gdnf −/− grafts, TH-negative inclusion-like structures were present in the cytoplasm of the TH-positive neurons at 3 months. These structures were also found in the Gdnf+/− transplants at 12 months, but not in Gdnf +/+ controls at any time point. In Gdnf +/+ grafts, TH-positive nerve fiber innervation of the striatal co-grafts was dense and patchy and overlapped with clusters of DARPP-32-positive neurons. This overlap did mismatch in the Gdnf+/− grafts, while the TH-positive innervation was sparse in the Gdnf−/− transplants and the DARPP-32-positive neurons were widespread distributed. In conclusion, GDNF is essential for long-term maintenance of both the VM TH-positive neurons and for the striatal tissue, and appears crucial for generation of a proper organization of the striatum.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.10.010
PMCID: PMC2991620  PMID: 20933580
GDNF; transplant; substantia nigra; striatum; DARPP-32; Gdnf knockout
9.  Glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) replacement attenuates motor impairments and nigrostriatal dopamine deficits in 12-month-old mice with a partial deletion of GDNF 
Glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) has been established as a growth factor for the survival and maintenance of dopamine (DA) neurons. In phase I clinical trials, GDNF treatment in Parkinson’s disease patients led to improved motor function and GDNF has been found to be down regulated in Parkinson’s disease patients. Studies using GDNF heterozygous (Gdnf+/−) mice have demonstrated that a partial reduction of GDNF leads to an age-related accelerated decline in nigrostriatal DA system- and motor-function and increased neuro-inflammation and oxidative stress in the substantia nigra (SN). Therefore, the purpose of the current studies was to determine if GDNF replacement restores motor function and functional markers within the nigrostriatal DA system in middle-aged Gdnf+/− mice. At 11 months of age, male Gdnf+/− and wildtype (WT) mice underwent bilateral intra-striatal injections of GDNF (10 μg) or vehicle. Locomotor activity was assessed weekly 1–4 weeks after treatment. Four weeks after treatment, their brains were processed for analysis of GDNF levels and various DAergic and oxidative stress markers. An intrastriatal injection of GDNF increased motor activity in Gdnf+/− mice to levels comparable to WT mice (1 week after injection) and this effect was maintained through the 4-week time point. This increase in locomotion was accompanied by a 40% increase in striatal GDNF protein levels and SN GDNF expression in Gdnf+/− mice. Additionally, GDNF treatment significantly increased the number of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive neurons in the SN of middle-aged Gdnf+/− mice, but not WT mice, which was coupled with reduced oxidative stress in the SN. These studies further support that long-term changes related to the dysfunction of the nigrostriatal pathway are influenced by GDNF expression and add that this dysfunction appears to be responsive to GDNF treatment. Additionally, these studies suggest that long-term GDNF depletion alters the biological and behavioral responses to GDNF treatment.
doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2012.12.022
PMCID: PMC3638246  PMID: 23290934
Dopamine; Glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor; Parkinson’s disease; Neurodegeneration; Striatum; Substantia nigra
10.  Methylation status of promoter 1 region of GDNF gene in human glioma cells 
Objective: This study aimed to investigate the methylation status of promoter 1 region of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in human glioma cells and to explore the effect of GDNF methylation on the expression of GDNF in glioma. Methods: GDNF gene mutation was detected by sequencing in 10 patients with glioma and 5 healthy controls. Bisulfite modification for analysis of DNA methylation was done to detect the methylation status of promoter 1 region of GDNF in 20 patients with glioma (10 with poorly differentiated and 10 with well differentiated) and 5 healthy controls. Results: There was no mutation at the promoter 1 region of GDNF gene in glioma. The incidence of methylation of GDNF gene at the promoter 1 region in healthy control, patients with poorly differentiated glioma and those with well differentiated glioma was 72.25%, 86.25% and 86.75%. The incidence of GDNF methylation in glioma was significantly higher than that in the normal brain (P<0.05); while there was no significant difference between well differentiated glioma and poorly differentiated glioma. Conclusions: Hypermethylation occurs in the promoter 1 region of GDNF and may influence the expression of GDNF in glioma.
PMCID: PMC4132136  PMID: 25126172
Glioma cell; glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor; promoter; methylation
11.  Cyclical and Patch-Like GDNF Distribution along the Basal Surface of Sertoli Cells in Mouse and Hamster Testes 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28367.
Background and Aims
In mammalian spermatogenesis, glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is one of the major Sertoli cell-derived factors which regulates the maintenance of undifferentiated spermatogonia including spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) through GDNF family receptor α1 (GFRα1). It remains unclear as to when, where and how GDNF molecules are produced and exposed to the GFRα1-positive spermatogonia in vivo.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Here we show the cyclical and patch-like distribution of immunoreactive GDNF-positive signals and their close co-localization with a subpopulation of GFRα1-positive spermatogonia along the basal surface of Sertoli cells in mice and hamsters. Anti-GDNF section immunostaining revealed that GDNF-positive signals are mainly cytoplasmic and observed specifically in the Sertoli cells in a species-specific as well as a seminiferous cycle- and spermatogenic activity-dependent manner. In contrast to the ubiquitous GDNF signals in mouse testes, high levels of its signals were cyclically observed in hamster testes prior to spermiation. Whole-mount anti-GDNF staining of the seminiferous tubules successfully visualized the cyclical and patch-like extracellular distribution of GDNF-positive granular deposits along the basal surface of Sertoli cells in both species. Double-staining of GDNF and GFRα1 demonstrated the close co-localization of GDNF deposits and a subpopulation of GFRα1-positive spermatogonia. In both species, GFRα1-positive cells showed a slender bipolar shape as well as a tendency for increased cell numbers in the GDNF-enriched area, as compared with those in the GDNF-low/negative area of the seminiferous tubules.
Conclusion/Significance
Our data provide direct evidence of regionally defined patch-like GDNF-positive signal site in which GFRα1-positive spermatogonia possibly interact with GDNF in the basal compartment of the seminiferous tubules.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028367
PMCID: PMC3235125  PMID: 22174794
12.  Endogenous GDNF in ventral tegmental area and nucleus accumbens does not play a role in the incubation of heroin craving 
Addiction biology  2010;16(2):261-272.
Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) activity in ventral tegmental area (VTA) mediates the time-dependent increases in cue-induced cocaine-seeking after withdrawal (incubation of cocaine craving). Here, we studied the generality of these findings to incubation of heroin craving. Rats were trained to self-administer heroin for 10 days (6-h/day; 0.075 mg/kg/infusion; infusions were paired with a tone-light cue) and tested for cue-induced heroin-seeking in extinction tests after 1, 11 or 30 withdrawal days. Cue-induced heroin seeking was higher after 11 or 30 days than after 1 day (incubation of heroin craving), and the time-dependent increases in extinction responding were associated with time-dependent changes in GDNF mRNA expression in VTA and nucleus accumbens. Additionally, acute accumbens (but not VTA) GDNF injections (12.5-μg/side) administered 1–3 h after the last heroin self-administration training session enhanced the time-dependent increases in extinction responding after withdrawal. However, the time-dependent increases in extinction responding after withdrawal were not associated with changes in GDNF protein expression in VTA and accumbens. Additionally, interfering with endogenous GDNF function by chronic delivery of anti-GDNF monoclonal neutralizing antibodies (600-ng/side/day) into VTA or accumbens had no effect on the time-dependent increases in extinction responding. In summary, heroin self-administration and withdrawal regulate VTA and accumbens GDNF mRNA expression in a time-dependent manner, and exogenous GDNF administration into accumbens but not VTA potentiates cue-induced heroin seeking. However, based on the GDNF protein expression and the anti-GDNF monoclonal neutralizing antibodies manipulation data, we conclude that neither accumbens nor VTA endogenous GDNF mediates the incubation of heroin craving.
doi:10.1111/j.1369-1600.2010.00281.x
PMCID: PMC3059093  PMID: 21182575
Extinction; reinstatement; relapse; drug self-administration; ventral tegmental area; nucleus accumbens; neurotrophic factors; GDNF; CDNF; MANF
13.  Anatomical Basis of Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor Expression in the Striatum and Related Basal Ganglia during Postnatal Development of the Rat 
There is increasing evidence that glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) plays a role as a limiting, striatal target-derived neurotrophic factor for dopamine neurons of the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc) by regulating the magnitude of the first phase of postnatal natural cell death which occurs in these neurons. While it has been shown that GDNF mRNA is relatively abundant in postnatal striatum, the cellular basis of its expression has been unknown. We therefore used nonradioactive in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry to examine the cellular basis of GDNF mRNA and protein expression, respectively, in postnatal striatum and related structures. We found that GDNF mRNA is expressed within medium-sized striatal neurons. Expression in glia was not observed. At the protein level, regionally, GDNF expression in striatum was observed in striosomal patches, as previously described. At a cellular level a few neurons were observed, but they do not account for the striosomal pattern. This pattern is predominantly due to GDNF-positive neuropil. Some of this neuropil arises from tyrosine hydroxylase-positive nigro-striatal dopaminergic afferents. Astrocytic processes do not appear to contribute to the striosomal pattern. GDNF-positive fibers are identified not only within intrinsic striatal neuropil, but also in fibers within the major striatal efferent targets: the globus pallidus, the entopeduncular nucleus, and the SN pars reticulata. We conclude that during normal postnatal development, medium-sized neurons are the principal source of GDNF within the striatum.
doi:10.1002/cne.20463
PMCID: PMC3092474  PMID: 15717300
natural cell death; dopamine; substantia nigra; striosome; globus pallidus; GDNF
14.  Glial Cell Line-derived Neurotrophic Factor Regulation of Genes Essential for Self-renewal of Mouse Spermatogonial Stem Cells Is Dependent on Src Family Kinase Signaling*S 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2007;282(35):25842-25851.
Self-renewal and differentiation by spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) is the foundation for continual spermatogenesis. SSC self-renewal is dependent on glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF); however, intracellular mechanisms stimulated by GDNF in SSCs are unknown. To investigate these mechanisms we utilized a culture system that maintains a mouse undifferentiated germ cell population enriched for self-renewing SSCs. In these cultures mRNA for the transcription factors Bcl6b, Erm, and Lhx1 are up-regulated by GDNF and decreased in its absence. The expression of all three molecules was further identified in undifferentiated spermatogonia in vivo. Using small interfering RNA to reduce expression and transplantation to quantify stem cell numbers, Bcl6b, Erm, and Lhx1 were shown to be important for SSC maintenance in vitro. Next, GDNF was shown to activate both Akt and Src family kinase (SFK) signaling in SSCs, and culture of SSCs with inhibitors to Akt or SFKs followed by transplantation analysis showed significant impairment of SSC maintenance in vitro. Apoptosis analysis revealed a significant increase in the percentage of apoptotic cells when Akt, but not SFK, signaling was impaired, indicating that multiple signaling pathways are responsible for SSC self-renewal and survival. Biochemical and gene expression experiments revealed that GDNF up-regulated expression of Bcl6b, Erm, and Lhx1 transcripts is dependent on SFK signaling. Overall, these data demonstrate that GDNF up-regulation of Bcl6b, Erm, and Lhx1 expression through SFK signaling is a key component of the intracellular mechanism for SSC self-renewal.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M703474200
PMCID: PMC4083858  PMID: 17597063
15.  TRPV1 and TRPV4 Play Pivotal Roles in Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65751.
Unaccustomed strenuous exercise that includes lengthening contraction (LC) often causes tenderness and movement related pain after some delay (delayed-onset muscle soreness, DOMS). We previously demonstrated that nerve growth factor (NGF) and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) are up-regulated in exercised muscle through up-regulation of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, and they sensitized nociceptors resulting in mechanical hyperalgesia. There is also a study showing that transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channels are involved in DOMS. Here we examined whether and how TRPV1 and/or TRPV4 are involved in DOMS. We firstly evaluated a method to measure the mechanical withdrawal threshold of the deep tissues in wild-type (WT) mice with a modified Randall-Selitto apparatus. WT, TRPV1−/− and TRPV4−/− mice were then subjected to LC. Another group of mice received injection of murine NGF-2.5S or GDNF to the lateral gastrocnemius (LGC) muscle. Before and after these treatments the mechanical withdrawal threshold of LGC was evaluated. The change in expression of NGF, GDNF and COX-2 mRNA in the muscle was examined using real-time RT-PCR. In WT mice, mechanical hyperalgesia was observed 6–24 h after LC and 1–24 h after NGF and GDNF injection. LC induced mechanical hyperalgesia neither in TRPV1−/− nor in TRPV4−/− mice. NGF injection induced mechanical hyperalgesia in WT and TRPV4−/− mice but not in TRPV1−/− mice. GDNF injection induced mechanical hyperalgesia in WT but neither in TRPV1−/− nor in TRPV4−/− mice. Expression of NGF and COX-2 mRNA was significantly increased 3 h after LC in all genotypes. However, GDNF mRNA did not increase in TRPV4−/− mice. These results suggest that TRPV1 contributes to DOMS downstream (possibly at nociceptors) of NGF and GDNF, while TRPV4 is located downstream of GDNF and possibly also in the process of GDNF up-regulation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065751
PMCID: PMC3684597  PMID: 23799042
16.  S100B Protein, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, and Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in Human Milk 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e21663.
Background
Human milk contains a wide variety of nutrients that contribute to the fulfillment of its functions, which include the regulation of newborn development. However, few studies have investigated the concentrations of S100B protein, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) in human milk. The associations of the concentrations of S100B protein, BDNF, and GDNF with maternal factors are not well explored.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To investigate the concentrations of S100B protein, BDNF, and GDNF in human milk and characterize the maternal factors associated with their levels in human milk, human milk samples were collected at days 3, 10, 30, and 90 after parturition. Levels of S100B protein, BDNF, and GDNF, and their mRNAs in the samples were detected. Then, these concentrations were compared with lactation and other maternal factors. S100B protein levels in human milk samples collected at 3, 10, 30, and 90 d after parturition were 1249.79±398.10, 1345.05±539.16, 1481.83±573.30, and 1414.39±621.31 ng/L, respectively. On the other hand, the BDNF concentrations in human milk samples were 10.99±4.55, 13.01±5.88, 13.35±6.43, and 2.83±5.47 µg/L, while those of GDNF were 10.90±1.65, 11.38±1., 11.29±3.10, and 11.40±2.21 g/L for the same time periods. Maternal post-pregnancy body mass index was positively associated with S100B levels in human milk (r = 0.335, P = 0.030<0.05). In addition, there was a significant correlation between the levels of S100B protein and BDNF (z = 2.09, P = 0.037<0.05). Delivery modes were negatively associated with the concentration of GDNF in human milk.
Conclusions
S100B protein, BDNF, and GDNF are present in all samples of human milk, and they may be responsible for the long term effects of breast feeding.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021663
PMCID: PMC3124553  PMID: 21738758
17.  DOPAMINE D2 RECEPTOR ACTIVATION LEADS TO AN UPREGULATION OF GLIAL CELL LINE-DERIVED NEUROTROPHIC FACTOR VIA Gβγ-ERK1/2-DEPENDENT INDUCTION OF ZIF268 
Journal of neurochemistry  2013;10.1111/jnc.12178.
Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a potent growth factor essential to the development, survival, and function of dopaminergic neurons (Airaksinen and Saarma, 2002). The molecular mechanisms underlying GDNF expression remain elusive, thus, we set out to identify a signaling pathway that governs GDNF levels. We found that treatment of both differentiated dopaminergic-like SH-SY5Y cells and rat midbrain slices with the dopamine D2 receptor (D2R) agonist, quinpirole, triggered an increase in the expression of GDNF that was temporally preceded by an increase in the levels of Zif268, a DNA-binding transcription factor encoded by an immediate-early gene. Moreover, the D2R inhibitor raclopride blocked the increase of both GDNF and Zif268 expression following potassium-evoked dopamine release in SH-SY5Y cells. We used adenoviral delivery of small hairpin RNA (shRNA) targeting Zif268 to downregulate its expression and found that Zif268 is specifically required for the D2R-mediated upregulation of GDNF. Furthermore, the D2R-mediated induction of GDNF and Zif268 expression was dependent on Gβγ-mediated signaling and activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (Erk1/2). Importantly, using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assay, we identified a direct association of Zif268 with the GDNF promoter. These results suggest that D2R activation induces a Gβγ- and Erk1/2-dependent increase in the level of Zif268, which functions to directly upregulate the expression of GDNF.
doi:10.1111/jnc.12178
PMCID: PMC3672320  PMID: 23373701
Dopamine D2 receptor; GDNF; Zif268; Gβγ; Erk1/2
18.  GDNF Induces CREB-1, ATF-1, and CREM-1 Phosphorylation and Up-regulates c-fos Transcription via the Ras/ERK1/2 Pathway to Promote Mouse Spermatogonial Stem Cell Proliferation 
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2007;26(1):266-278.
Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) plays a crucial role in regulating the proliferation of spermatogonial stem cells (SSC). The signaling pathways mediating the function of GDNF in SSC remain unclear. This study was designed to determine whether GDNF signals via the Ras/ERK1/2 pathway in the C18-4 cells, a mouse SSC line. The identity of this cell line was confirmed by the expression of various markers for germ cells, proliferating spermatogonia, and SSC, including GCNA1, PCNA, Oct-4, GFRα 1, and Ret. Western blot analysis revealed that GDNF activated Ret tyrosine phosphorylation. All three isoforms of Shc were phosphorylated upon GDNF stimulation, and GDNF induced the binding of Shc and Grb2 to the phosphorylated Ret as indicated by immunoprecipitation and Western blotting. The active Ras was induced by GDNF, which further activated ERK1/2 phosphorylation. GDNF stimulated the phosphorylation of CREB-1, ATF-1, and CREM-1, and c-fos transcription. Notably, the increase in ERK1/2 phosphorylation, c-fos transcription, bromodeoxyuridine incorporation, and metaphase counts induced by GDNF, was completely blocked by pretreatment with PD98059, a specific inhibitor for MEK1, the upstream regulator of ERK1/2. GDNF stimulation eventually up-regulated cyclin A and CDK2 expression. Together, these data suggest that GDNF induces CREB/ATF-1 family member phosphorylation and c-fos transcription via the Ras/ERK1/2 pathway to promote the proliferation of SSC. Unveiling GDNF signaling cascades in SSC has important implications in providing attractive treatment targets for male infertility and testicular cancers as well as for the potential de-differentiation of these cells to cells that mimic embryonic stem cells.
doi:10.1634/stemcells.2007-0436
PMCID: PMC2905627  PMID: 17962702
GDNF; spermatogonial stem cells; Ret; Ras/ERK pathway; CREB/ATF-1 family; c-fos
19.  Enhanced Dopamine Transporter Activity in Middle-Aged Gdnf Heterozygous Mice 
Neurobiology of aging  2010;33(2):427.e1-427.e14.
Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) supports the viability of midbrain dopamine (DA) neurons that degenerate in Parkinson’s disease. Middle aged, 12-month-old, Gdnf heterozygous (Gdnf+/−) mice have diminished spontaneous locomotor activity and enhanced synaptosomal DA uptake compared to wildtype mice. In this study, dopamine transporter (DAT) function in middle-aged, 12-month-old Gdnf+/− mice was more thoroughly investigated using in vivo electrochemistry. Gdnf+/− mice injected with the DAT inhibitor, nomifensine, exhibited significantly more locomotor activity than wildtype mice. In vivo electrochemistry with carbon fiber microelectrodes demonstrated enhanced clearance of DA in the striatum of Gdnf+/− mice, suggesting greater surface expression of DAT than in wildtype littermates. Additionally, 12 month old Gdnf+/− mice expressed greater D2 receptor mRNA and protein in the striatum than wildtype mice. Neurochemical analyses of striatal tissue samples indicated significant reductions in DA and a faster DA metabolic rate in Gdnf+/− mice than in wildtype mice. Altogether, these data support an important role for GDNF in the regulation of uptake, synthesis, and metabolism of DA during aging.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2010.10.013
PMCID: PMC3117013  PMID: 21144620
In vivo electrochemistry; Dopamine; neurodegeneration; Glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor; Striatum; Movement disorders; Dopamine transporter
20.  Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor increases beta cell mass and improves glucose tolerance 
Gastroenterology  2008;134(3):727-737.
BACKGROUND & AIMS
Pancreatic β-cell mass increases in response to increased demand for insulin, but the factors involved are largely unknown. Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is a growth factor that plays a role in the development and survival of the enteric nervous system. We investigated the role of GDNF in regulating β-cell survival.
METHODS
Studies were performed using the β-TC-6 pancreatic β-cell line, isolated mouse pancreatic β-cells, and in vivo in transgenic mice that overexpress GDNF in pancreatic glia. GDNF receptor family αl and c-Ret receptor expression were assessed by RT-PCR and immunofluorescence microscopy. Apoptosis was evaluated by assessing caspase-3 cleavage. Phosphoinositol-3-kinase signaling pathway was analyzed by Akt phosphorylation. Glucose homeostasis was assessed by performing intraperitoneal glucose tolerance tests. Insulin sensitivity was assessed using intraperitoneal injection of insulin.
RESULTS
We demonstrate the presence of receptors for GDNF, GFR-α1 and c-Ret on β-cells. GDNF promoted β-cell survival, proliferation and protected them from thapsigargin-induced apoptosis (P<0.0001). GDNF resulted in phosphorylation of Akt and GSK3β. Transgenic mice that overexpress GDNF in glia exhibit increased β-cell mass, proliferation and insulin content. No differences in insulin sensitivity and c-peptide levels were noted. Compared to wild-type mice GDNF-transgenic mice have significantly lower blood glucose levels and improved glucose tolerance (P<0.01). GDNF-transgenic mice are resistant to streptozotocin-induced β-cell loss (P<0.001) and subsequent hyperglycemia.
CONCLUSIONS
We demonstrate that overexpression of GDNF in pancreatic glia improves glucose tolerance and that GDNF may be a therapeutic target for improving β-cell mass.
doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2007.12.033
PMCID: PMC3725148  PMID: 18241861
GDNF; β-cells; enteric neurons; hyperglycemia; diabetes; apoptosis; PI-3-kinase; Akt; GFR1α
21.  Identification of Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor-Regulated Genes Important for Spermatogonial Stem Cell Self-Renewal in the Rat1 
Biology of Reproduction  2009;81(1):56-66.
Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) provide the foundation for spermatogenesis throughout the life of a male. Because SSCs of many species can colonize the mouse testis, and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) is responsible for stimulating SSC self-renewal in rodents, we reasoned that molecular mechanisms of SSC self-renewal are similar across species. GDNF-regulated genes have been identified in mouse SSCs; however, downstream targets of GDNF are unknown in other species. The objective of this work was to identify GDNF-regulated genes in rat SSCs and to define the biological significance of these genes for rat SSC self-renewal. We conducted microarray analysis on cultured rat germ cells enriched for SSCs in the presence and absence of GDNF. Many GDNF-regulated genes were identified, most notably, Bcl6b and Etv5, which are important for mouse SSC self-renewal. Bcl6b was the most highly regulated gene in both the rat and mouse. Additionally, we identified three novel GDNF-regulated genes in rat SSCs: Bhlhe40, Hoxc4, and Tec. Small interfering RNA treatment for Bcl6b, Etv5, Bhlhe40, Hoxc4, and Tec resulted in a decrease in SSC number, as determined by transplantation, without a change in total cell number within the culture. These data indicate that, like in the mouse SSC, Bcl6b and Etv5 are important for rat SSC self-renewal, suggesting that these genes may be important for SSCs in all mammals. Furthermore, identification of three novel GDNF-regulated genes in the rat SSC extends our knowledge of SSC activity and broadens the foundation for understanding this process in higher species, including humans.
Bcl6b, Etv5, Bhlhb2, Hoxc4, and Tec are regulated by glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor and important for spermatogonial stem cell self-renewal in the rat.
doi:10.1095/biolreprod.108.075358
PMCID: PMC3093986  PMID: 19339709
adult stem cells; germline; growth factors; microarray; rat; self-renewal
22.  Injury-Induced Accumulation of Glial Cell Line-Derived Neurotrophic Factor in the Rostral Part of the Injured Rat Spinal Cord 
The spinal cord of a 7-week-old female Wistar rat was hemi-transected at thoracic position 10 with a razor blade, and changes in glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) protein and mRNA expression levels in the spinal cord were examined. GDNF protein and mRNA expression levels were evaluated by enzyme immunoassay and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, respectively. Although GDNF is distributed in the healthy spinal cord from 150 to 400 pg/g tissue in a regionally dependent manner, hemi-transection (left side) of the spinal cord caused a rapid increase in GDNF content in the ipsilateral rostral but not in the caudal part of the spinal cord. On the other hand, injury-induced GDNF mRNA was distributed limitedly in both rostral and caudal stumps. These observations suggest the possibility that increased GDNF in the rostral part is responsible for the accumulation of GDNF that may be constitutively transported from the rostral to caudal side within the spinal cord. Although such local increase of endogenous GDNF protein may not be sufficient for nerve regeneration and locomotor improvement, it may play a physiological role in supporting spinal neurons including motoneurons.
doi:10.3390/ijms131013484
PMCID: PMC3497337  PMID: 23202963
glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF); spinal cord injury; enzyme immunoassay (EIA)
23.  Absence of Ret Signaling in Mice Causes Progressive and Late Degeneration of the Nigrostriatal System 
PLoS Biology  2007;5(3):e39.
Support of ageing neurons by endogenous neurotrophic factors such as glial cell line–derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) may determine whether the neurons resist or succumb to neurodegeneration. GDNF has been tested in clinical trials for the treatment of Parkinson disease (PD), a common neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the loss of midbrain dopaminergic (DA) neurons. BDNF modulates nigrostriatal functions and rescues DA neurons in PD animal models. The physiological roles of GDNF and BDNF signaling in the adult nigrostriatal DA system are unknown. We generated mice with regionally selective ablations of the genes encoding the receptors for GDNF (Ret) and BDNF (TrkB). We find that Ret, but not TrkB, ablation causes progressive and adult-onset loss of DA neurons specifically in the substantia nigra pars compacta, degeneration of DA nerve terminals in striatum, and pronounced glial activation. These findings establish Ret as a critical regulator of long-term maintenance of the nigrostriatal DA system and suggest conditional Ret mutants as useful tools for gaining insights into the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of PD.
Author Summary
What does a neuron need to survive? Our body produces its own survival factors for neurons, so-called neurotrophic factors, which have additional roles in neuron differentiation, growth, and function. Declining production of a neurotrophic factor or impaired signal transduction in ageing neurons may contribute to pathological neurodegeneration in humans. Glial cell line–derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) have been suggested as survival factors for midbrain dopaminergic neurons, a group of neurons primarily affected in Parkinson disease.
To investigate the physiological requirements for GDNF and BDNF to establish and maintain an important output pathway of these neurons—the nigrostriatal pathway—in the intact brain, we generated mutant mice with regionally selective ablations of the receptors for these survival factors, Ret (receptor of GDNF and related family members) or TrkB (BDNF receptor). Surprisingly, these mice survive to adulthood and show normal development and maturation of the nigrostriatal system. However, in ageing mice, ablation of Ret leads to a progressive and cell-type–specific loss of substantia nigra pars compacta neurons and their projections into the striatum. Our findings establish Ret and subsequent downstream effectors as critical regulators of long-term maintenance of the nigrostriatal system.
Ret, a receptor for glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor, selectively regulates long-term maintenance of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system.
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0050039
PMCID: PMC1808500  PMID: 17298183
24.  Hyperglycemia: GDNF-EGR1 Pathway Target Renal Epithelial Cell Migration and Apoptosis in Diabetic Renal Embryopathy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56731.
Maternal hyperglycemia can inhibit morphogenesis of ureteric bud branching, Glial cell line-derived neurotrophilic factor (GDNF) is a key regulator of the initiation of ureteric branching. Early growth response gene-1 (EGR-1) is an immediate early gene. Preliminary study found EGR-1 persistently expressed with GDNF in hyperglycemic environment. To evaluate the potential relationship of hyperglycemia-GDNF-EGR-1 pathway, in vitro human renal proximal tubular epithelial (HRPTE) cells as target and in vivo streptozotocin-induced mice model were used. Our in vivo microarray, real time-PCR and confocal morphological observation confirmed apoptosis in hyperglycemia-induced fetal nephropathy via activation of the GDNF/MAPK/EGR-1 pathway at E12-E15. Detachment between ureteric branch and metanephrons, coupled with decreasing number and collapse of nephrons on Day 1 newborn mice indicate hyperglycemic environment suppress ureteric bud to invade metanephric rudiment. In vitro evidence proved that high glucose suppressed HRPTE cell migration and enhanced GDNF-EGR-1 pathway, inducing HRPTE cell apoptosis. Knockdown of EGR-1 by siRNA negated hyperglycemic suppressed GDNF-induced HRPTE cells. EGR-1 siRNA also reduced GDNF/EGR-1-induced cRaf/MEK/ERK phosphorylation by 80%. Our findings reveal a novel mechanism of GDNF/MAPK/EGR-1 activation playing a critical role in HRPTE cell migration, apoptosis and fetal hyperglycemic nephropathy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056731
PMCID: PMC3585314  PMID: 23468876
25.  Glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor gene therapy ameliorates chronic hyperprolactinemia in senile rats 
Neuroscience  2010;167(3):946-953.
Progressive dysfunction of hypothalamic tuberoinfundibular dopaminergic (TIDA) neurons during normal aging is associated in the female rat with chronic hyperprolactinemia. We assessed the effectiveness of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) gene therapy to restore TIDA neuron function in senile female rats and reverse their chronic hyperprolactinemia. Young (2.5 months) and senile (29 months) rats received a bilateral intrahypothalamic injection (1010 pfu) of either an adenoviral vector expressing the gene for β-galactosidase; (Y-βgal and S-βgal, respectively) or a vector expressing rat GDNF (Y-GDNF and S-GDNF, respectively). Transgenic GDNF levels in supernatants of GDNF adenovector-transduced N2a neuronal cell cultures were 25 ± 4 ng/ml, as determined by bioassay. In the rats, serum prolactin (PRL) was measured at regular intervals. On day 17 animals were sacrificed and neuronal nuclear antigen (NeuN) and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactive cells counted in the arcuate-periventricular hypothalamic region. The S-GDNF but not the S-βgal rats, showed a significant reduction in body weight. The chronic hyperprolactinemia of the senile females was significantly ameliorated in the S-GDNF rats (p< 0.05) but not in the S-βgal rats. Neither age nor GDNF induced significant changes in the number of NeuN and TH neurons. We conclude that transgenic GDNF ameliorates chronic hyperprolactinemia in aging female rats, probably by restoring TIDA neuron function.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.02.053
PMCID: PMC2854198  PMID: 20219648
aging; DA neurodegeneration; TIDA neurons; chronic hyperprolactinemia; GDNF; gene therapy

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