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1.  Environmental Enrichment Mitigates Cognitive Deficits in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease 
Epidemiological studies suggest that individuals with greater education or more cognitively demanding occupations have diminished risk of developing dementia. We wanted to test whether this effect could be recapitulated in rodents using environmental enrichment, a paradigm well documented to attenuate behavioral deficits induced by various pathological insults. Here, we demonstrate that learning and memory deficits observed in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease can be ameliorated by enrichment. Female transgenic mice overexpressing amyloid precursor protein and/or presenilin-1 and nontransgenic controls were placed into enriched or standard cages at 2 months of age and tested for cognitive behavior after 6 months of differential housing. Enrichment significantly improved performance of all genotypes in the radial water maze and in the classic and repeated-reversal versions of the Morris water maze. However, enrichment did not benefit all genotypes equally. Mice overproducing amyloid-β (Aβ), particularly those with amyloid deposits, showed weaker memory for the platform location in the classic Morris water maze and learned new platform positions in the repeated-reversals task less quickly than their nontransgenic cagemates. Nonetheless, enrichment normalized the performance of Aβ-overproducing mice to the level of standard-housed nontransgenic mice. Moreover, this functional preservation occurred despite increased neuritic plaque burden in the hippocampus of double-transgenic animals and elevated steady-state Aβ levels, because both endogenous and transgene-derived Aβ are increased in enriched animals. These results demonstrate that the generation of Aβ in vivo and its impact on the function of the nervous system can be strongly modulated by environmental factors.
PMCID: PMC4440804  PMID: 15917461
Alzheimer’s disease; transgenic mouse; amyloid precursor protein; Aβ; environmental enrichment; cognitive behavior
2.  Alzheimer’s-Type Amyloidosis in Transgenic Mice Impairs Survival of Newborn Neurons Derived from Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis 
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by severe neuronal loss in several brain regions important for learning and memory. Of the structures affected by AD, the hippocampus is unique in continuing to produce new neurons throughout life. Mounting evidence indicates that hippocampal neurogenesis contributes to the processing and storage of new information and that deficits in the production of new neurons may impair learning and memory. Here, we examine whether the overproduction of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide in a mouse model for AD might be detrimental to newborn neurons in the hippocampus. We used transgenic mice overexpressing familial AD variants of amyloid precursor protein (APP) and/or presenilin-1 to test how the level (moderate or high) and the aggregation state (soluble or deposited) of Aβ impacts the proliferation and survival of new hippocampal neurons. Although proliferation and short-term survival of neural progenitors in the hippocampus was unaffected by APP/Aβ overproduction, survival of newborn cells 4 weeks later was dramatically diminished in transgenic mice with Alzheimer’s-type amyloid pathology. Phenotypic analysis of the surviving population revealed a specific reduction in newborn neurons. Our data indicate that overproduction of Aβ and the consequent appearance of amyloid plaques cause an overall reduction in the number of adult-generated hippocampal neurons. Diminished capacity for hippocampal neuron replacement may contribute to the cognitive decline observed in these mice.
PMCID: PMC4439193  PMID: 17581964
hippocampal neurogenesis; Alzheimer’s disease; dentate gyrus; transgenic mouse; amyloid precursor protein; presenilin 1
3.  Rodent Aβ Modulates the Solubility and Distribution of Amyloid Deposits in Transgenic Mice* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2007;282(31):22707-22720.
The amino acid sequence of amyloid precursor protein (APP) is highly conserved, and age-related Aβ aggregates have been described in a variety of vertebrate animals, with the notable exception of mice and rats. Three amino acid substitutions distinguish mouse and human Aβ that might contribute to their differing properties in vivo. To examine the amyloidogenic potential of mouse Aβ, we studied several lines of transgenic mice overexpressing wild-type mouse amyloid precursor protein (moAPP) either alone or in conjunction with mutant PS1 (PS1dE9). Neither overexpression of moAPP alone nor co-expression with PS1dE9 caused mice to develop Alzheimer-type amyloid pathology by 24 months of age. We further tested whether mouse Aβ could accelerate the deposition of human Aβ by crossing the moAPP transgenic mice to a bigenic line expressing human APPswe with PS1dE9. The triple transgenic animals (moAPP × APPswe/PS1dE9) produced 20% more Aβ but formed amyloid deposits no faster and to no greater extent than APPswe/PS1dE9 siblings. Instead, the additional mouse Aβ increased the detergent solubility of accumulated amyloid and exacerbated amyloid deposition in the vasculature. These findings suggest that, although mouse Aβ does not influence the rate of amyloid formation, the incorporation of Aβ peptides with differing sequences alters the solubility and localization of the resulting aggregates.
PMCID: PMC4435736  PMID: 17556372
Journal of neurochemistry  2010;113(5):1092-1100.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressively paralytic neurodegenerative disease that can be caused by mutations in Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1). Transgenic mice that over-express mutant SOD1 develop paralysis and accumulate aggregates of mutant protein in the brainstem and spinal cord. The present study uses a cell culture model to demonstrate αB-crystallin is capable of reducing aggregation of mutant SOD1. To test the role of αB-crystallin in modulating SOD1 aggregation in vivo, αB-crystallin deficient mice were bred to mice expressing two different SOD1 mutants (G37R and L126Z mutants). Although completely eliminating αB-crystallin reduced the interval to disease endstage by 20–30 days in mice expressing either mutant, there were no detectable changes in the levels of sedimentable, SOD1 aggregates in the spinal cord of symptomatic mice. Because αB-crystallin is most abundantly expressed in muscle, we expected that the loss of this chaperone would leave this tissue vulnerable to mutant SOD1 aggregation. However, there was no evidence of mutant SOD1 aggregation in the muscle of mice lacking αB-crystallin. Our findings indicate that a significant perturbation to the protein homeostasis network of muscle is not sufficient to induce the aggregation of misfolded mutant SOD1. These outcomes have implications regarding the role of chaperones in modulating the tissue specific accumulations of misfolded SOD1.
PMCID: PMC3971727  PMID: 20067574
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase; αB-crystallin; protein misfolding; heat shock proteins
5.  Regenerative Medicine in Alzheimer's Disease 
Identifying novel, effective therapeutics for Alzheimer's disease (AD) is one of the major unmet medical needs for the coming decade. Because the current paradigm for developing and testing disease modifying AD therapies is protracted and likely to be even longer with the shift towards earlier intervention in pre-clinical AD, it is an open question whether we can develop, test, and widely deploy a novel therapy in time to help the current at-risk generation if we continue to follow the standard paradigms of discovery and drug development. There is an imperative need to find safe and effective preventative measures that can be rapidly deployed to stem the coming wave of AD that will potentially engulf the next generation. We can broadly define regenerative medicine as approaches that use stem-cell-based therapies or approaches that seek to modulate inherent neurogenesis. Neurogenesis, though most active during pre-natal development has been shown to continue in several small parts of the brain, which includes the hippocampus and the subventricular zone, suggesting its potential to reverse cognitive deficits. If AD pathology impacts neurogenesis then it follows that conditions that stimulate endogenous neurogenesis (e.g., environmental stimuli, physical activity, trophic factors, cytokines, and drugs) may help to promote the regenerative and recovery process. Herein, we review the complex logistics of potentially implementing neurogenesis-based therapeutic strategies for the treatment of AD.
PMCID: PMC3976713  PMID: 24286919
6.  Reversible pathologic and cognitive phenotypes in an inducible model of Alzheimer-amyloidosis 
Transgenic mice that express mutant amyloid precursor protein (APPsi) using tet-Off vector systems provide an alternative model for assessing short- and long-term effects of Aβ-targeting therapies on phenotypes related to the deposition of Alzheimer-type amyloid. Here we use such a model, termed APPsi:tTA, to determine what phenotypes persist in mice with high amyloid burden after new production of APP/Aβ has been suppressed. We find that 12-13 month old APPsi:tTA mice are impaired in cognitive tasks that assess short- and long-term memories. Acutely suppressing new APPsi/Aβ production produced highly significant improvements in performance short-term spatial memory tasks; which upon continued suppression translated to superior performance in more demanding tasks that assess long-term spatial memory and working memory. Deficits in episodic-like memory and cognitive flexibility, however, were more persistent. Arresting mutant APPsi production caused a rapid decline in the brain levels of soluble APP ectodomains, full-length APP, and APP C-terminal fragments. As expected, amyloid deposits persisted after new APP/Aβ production was inhibited whereas, unexpectedly, we detected persistent pools of solubilizable, relatively mobile, Aβ42. Additionally, we observed persistent levels of Aβ immunoreactive entities that were of a size consistent with SDS-resistant oligomeric assemblies. Thus, in this model with significant amyloid pathology, a rapid amelioration of cognitive deficits was observed despite persistent levels of oligomeric Aβ assemblies and low, but detectable solubilizable Aβ42 peptides. These findings implicate complex relationships between accumulating Aβ and activities of APP, soluble APP ectodomains, and/or APP CTFs in mediating cognitive deficits in this model of amyloidosis.
PMCID: PMC3711622  PMID: 23447589
7.  A novel variant of human SOD1 harboring ALS-associated and experimental mutations in metal-binding residues and free cysteines lacks toxicity in vivo 
Journal of neurochemistry  2012;121(3):475-485.
Mutations in SOD1 cause FALS. The Cu binding capacity of SOD1 has spawned hypotheses that implicate metal-mediated production of reactive species as a potential mechanism of toxicity. In past experiments, we have tested such hypotheses by mutating residues in SOD1 that normally coordinate the binding of Cu, finding that such mutants retain the capacity to induce motor neuron disease. We now describe the lack of disease in mice that express a variant of human SOD1 in which residues that coordinate the binding of Cu and Zn have been mutated (SODMD). SODMD encodes 3 disease-causing and 4 experimental mutations that ultimately eliminate all histidines involved in the binding of metals; and includes one disease-causing and one experimental mutation that eliminate secondary metal binding at C6 and C111. We show that the combined effect of these mutations produces a protein that is unstable but does not aggregate on its own, is not toxic, and does not induce disease when co-expressed with high levels of wild-type SOD1. In cell culture models, we determine that the combined mutation of C6 and C111 to G and S, respectively, dramatically reduces the aggregation propensity of SODMD and may account for the lack of toxicity for this mutant.
PMCID: PMC3705958  PMID: 22332887
superoxide dismutase 1; motor neuron disease; transgenic mouse models; protein aggregation
8.  Ex vivo cultures of microglia from young and aged rodent brain reveal age-related changes in microglial function 
Neurobiology of aging  2010;33(1):195.e1-195.12.
To understand how microglial cell function may change with aging, various protocols have been developed to isolate microglia from the young and aged central nervous system (CNS). Here we report modification of an existing protocol that is marked by less debris contamination and improved yields and demonstrates that microglial functions are varied and dependent on age. Specifically, we found that microglia from aged mice constitutively secrete greater amounts of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) relative to microglia from younger mice and are less responsive to stimulation. Also, microglia from aged mice have reduced glutathione levels and internalize less amyloid beta peptide (Aβ) while microglia from mice of all ages do not retain the amyloid beta peptide for a significant length of time. These studies offer further support for the idea that microglial cell function changes with aging. They suggest that microglial Aβ phagocytosis results in Aβ redistribution rather than biophysical degradation in vivo and thereby provide mechanistic insight to the lack of amyloid burden elimination by parenchymal microglia in aged adults and those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
PMCID: PMC4162517  PMID: 20580465
Microglia; Alzheimer’s disease; Beta amyloid; Glutathione; Cytokine; IL-6; TNF-α; Aging
9.  Analysis of Mutant SOD1 Electrophoretic Mobility by Blue Native Gel Electrophoresis; Evidence for Soluble Multimeric Assemblies 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104583.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) cause familial forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). Disease causing mutations have diverse consequences on the activity and half-life of the protein, ranging from complete inactivity and short half-life to full activity and long-half-life. Uniformly, disease causing mutations induce the protein to misfold and aggregate and such aggregation tendencies are readily visualized by over-expression of the proteins in cultured cells. In the present study we have investigated the potential of using immunoblotting of proteins separated by Blue-Native gel electrophoresis (BNGE) as a means to identify soluble multimeric forms of mutant protein. We find that over-expressed wild-type human SOD1 (hSOD1) is generally not prone to form soluble high molecular weight entities that can be separated by BNGE. For ALS mutant SOD1, we observe that for all mutants examined (A4V, G37R, G85R, G93A, and L126Z), immunoblots of BN-gels separating protein solubilized by digitonin demonstrated varied amounts of high molecular weight immunoreactive entities. These entities lacked reactivity to ubiquitin and were partially dissociated by reducing agents. With the exception of the G93A mutant, these entities were not reactive to the C4F6 conformational antibody. Collectively, these data demonstrate that BNGE can be used to assess the formation of soluble multimeric assemblies of mutant SOD1.
PMCID: PMC4133237  PMID: 25121776
10.  Unbiased Screen Reveals Ubiquilin-1 and -2 Highly Associated with Huntingtin Inclusions 
Brain research  2013;1524:62-73.
Recently mutations in ubiquilin-2 were identified in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and ALS/dementia providing direct evidence for the importance of this protein in neurodegenerative diseases. Histological studies have suggested that ubiquilin-1/-2 are associated with various pathological inclusions including Lewy bodies in Parkinson’s disease, neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer’s disease, polyQ inclusions in expansion repeat diseases and various proteinopathies associated with ALS and frontotemporal dementia. Using specific ubiquilin-2 antibodies and a series of transgenic mouse models of proteinopathies associated with neurodegenerative disease, we show that ubiquilin-2 preferentially associates with huntingtin polyQ expansion aggregates compared to α-synuclein, tau and several other types of protein inclusions. These results were confirmed by similar findings for ubiquilin-1 and -2 in human brain tissue sections, where accumulation was observed in huntingtin inclusions, but only infrequently in other types of protein inclusions. In cultured cells, ubiquilin-2 associates with huntingtin/polyQ aggregates, but this is not compromised by disease-causing mutations. Although ubiquilin proteins can function as chaperones to shuttle proteins for degradation, there is persistent co-localization between ubiquilin-2 and polyQ aggregated proteins during disease progression in the N586-82Q-C63 Huntington’s disease mouse model. Thus, the co-localization of ubiquilin-2 with the huntingtin aggregates does not appear to facilitate aggregate removal.
PMCID: PMC3914001  PMID: 23774650
Huntington’s disease; inclusions; ubiquilin; transgenic mice
11.  Cytosolic proteins lose solubility as amyloid deposits in a transgenic mouse model of Alzheimer-type amyloidosis 
Human Molecular Genetics  2013;22(14):2765-2774.
The extracellular accumulation of β-amyloid peptide is a key trigger in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In humans, amyloid deposition precedes the appearance of intracellular inclusion pathology formed by cytosolic proteins such as Tau, α-synuclein and TDP-43. These secondary pathologies have not been observed in mice that model Alzheimer-type amyloidosis by expressing mutant amyloid precursor protein, with or without mutant presenilin 1. The lack of secondary pathology in these models has made it difficult to establish how amyloid deposition initiates the cascade of events that leads to secondary intracellular pathology that characterizes human AD. In transgenic mice that model Alzheimer-type amyloidosis, we sought to determine whether there is evidence of altered cytosolic protein folding by assessing whether amyloid deposition causes normally soluble proteins to misfold. Using a method that involved detergent extraction and sedimentation coupled with proteomic approaches, we identified numerous cytosolic proteins that show specific losses in solubility as amyloid accumulates. The proteins identified included glycolytic enzymes and members of the 14-3-3 chaperone family. A substantial accumulation of lysine 48-linked polyubiquitin was also detected. Overall, the data demonstrate that the accumulation of amyloid by some manner causes the loss of solubility intracellular cytosolic proteins.
PMCID: PMC3690965  PMID: 23512986
12.  Conformational specificity of the C4F6 SOD1 antibody; low frequency of reactivity in sporadic ALS cases 
Greater than 160 missense mutations in copper-zinc superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) can cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These mutations produce conformational changes that reveal novel antibody binding epitopes. A monoclonal antibody, clone C4F6 - raised against the ALS variant G93A of SOD1, has been identified as specifically recognizing a conformation shared by many ALS mutants of SOD1. Attempts to determine whether non-mutant SOD1 adopts a C4F6-reactive conformation in spinal tissues of sporadic ALS (sALS) patients has produced inconsistent results. To define the epitope recognized by C4F6, we tested its binding to a panel of recombinant ALS-SOD1 proteins expressed in cultured cells, producing data to suggest that the C4F6 epitope minimally contains amino acids 90–93, which are normally folded into a tight hairpin loop. Multiple van der Waals interactions between the 90–93 loop and a loop formed by amino acids 37–42, particularly a leucine at position 38, form a stable structure termed the β-plug. Based on published modeling predictions, we suggest that the binding of C4F6 to multiple ALS mutants of SOD1 occurs when the local structure within the β-plug, including the loop at 90–93, is destabilized. In using the antibody to stain tissues from transgenic mice or humans, the specificity of the antibody for ALS mutant SOD1 was influenced by antigen retrieval protocols. Using conditions that showed the best discrimination between normal and misfolded mutant SOD1 in cell and mouse models, we could find no obvious difference in C4F6 reactivity to spinal motor neurons between sALS and controls tissues.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi: 10.1186/2051-5960-2-55) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4035506  PMID: 24887207
Superoxide dismutase 1; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C4F6 epitope; Conformational antibodies
13.  Mapping SOD1 domains of non-native interaction: Roles of intra-and inter-molecular disulfide bonding in aggregation 
Journal of neurochemistry  2006;96(5):1277-1288.
Superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) proteins harboring mutations linked to familial Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (FALS) uniformly show heightened potential to form high molecular weight structures. Here, we examine the domains of SOD1 that are involved in forming these structures (aggregates) and study the role of intra and intermolecular disulfide bonds. An analysis of disease mutations identified to date reveals a non-random distribution with predominant occurrence at residues within highly conserved β-strands or at highly conserved residues in loop domains. Using a cell transfection assay for aggregation, we determined that no single domain in SOD1 is indispensable in the formation of sedimentable aggregates, suggesting multiple potential motifs in the protein mediate non-native interactions. By a cell-free aggregation assay, analysis of transgenic mouse tissues, and mutagenesis approaches, we found evidence that redox conditions may modulate SOD1 aggregation; reduction of the native intra-molecular disulfide bonds may predispose SOD1 to unfolding and aggregation, whereas non-native inter-molecular disulfide linkages may help stabilize aggregates in vivo. The results suggest a possible mechanism for diversity in the structures formed by different SOD1mutants; and define a potential contribution of redox conditions to SOD1 aggregation.
PMCID: PMC3989867  PMID: 16441516
14.  Limited clearance of pre-existing amyloid plaques after intracerebral injection of Aβ antibodies in two mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease 
Recent studies have demonstrated the potential utility of antibodies for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In transgenic mouse models of AD, peripheral and intracerebral administration of Aβ-specific antibodies reduces amyloid burdens to varied extents. The mechanism may involve clearance of pre-existing amyloid plaques or prevention of new amyloid formation. Here we have used two transgenic models, the inducible CamKII-ttAxtetAPP/swe/ind (Line 107) and the APPswe/PS1dE9 (Line 85), to test the ability of intracerebral injection of Aβ antibodies to clear amyloid. Because the production of Aβ peptides in the Line 107 model is inducible, whereas production in Line 85 mice is constitutive, we could study the effects of antibody on pre-existing plaques versus continuous plaque formation. In Line 85, injection of antibody resulted in modest but statistically significant reductions in amyloid burden (average, 14–16%). However, injected antibodies had no effect on amyloid burden in Line 107 under conditions in which the production of Aβ was suppressed, indicating that pre-existing plaques are not rapidly cleared. These results indicate that, in these two models, intracerebral injection of Aβ antibodies produces modest reductions in amyloid deposition; and suggest that the mechanism may involve prevention of new amyloid deposits rather than clearance of pre-existing plaques.
PMCID: PMC3972013  PMID: 18091561
Alzheimer’s disease; AD; immunotherapy; Aβ; antibody; amyloid precursor protein; APP
15.  Thinking laterally about neurodegenerative proteinopathies 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(5):1847-1855.
Many neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and frontotemporal dementia, are proteinopathies that are associated with the aggregation and accumulation of misfolded proteins. While remarkable progress has been made in understanding the triggers of these conditions, several challenges have hampered the translation of preclinical therapies targeting pathways downstream of the initiating proteinopathies. Clinical trials in symptomatic patients using therapies directed toward initiating trigger events have met with little success, prompting concerns that such therapeutics may be of limited efficacy when used in advanced stages of the disease rather than as prophylactics. Herein, we discuss gaps in our understanding of the pathological processes downstream of the trigger and potential strategies to identify common features of the downstream degenerative cascade in multiple CNS proteinopathies, which could potentially lead to the development of common therapeutic targets for multiple disorders.
PMCID: PMC3635732  PMID: 23635781
16.  Metal-deficient aggregates and diminished copper found in cells expressing SOD1 mutations that cause ALS 
Disruptions in metal ion homeostasis have been described in association with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for a number of years but the precise mechanism of involvement is poorly understood. Metal ions are especially important to familial ALS cases caused by mutations in the metalloenzyme copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1). To investigate the role of metals in aggregation of mutant SOD1, we have examined the localization of metal ions in a cell culture model of overexpression. Chinese hamster ovary cells (CHO-K1) were transfected to overexpress SOD1 fused to yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) to readily identify the transfected cells and the intracellular aggregates that develop in the cells expressing mutant or wild-type (WT) SOD1. The concentration and distribution of iron, copper, and zinc were determined for four SOD1 mutants (A4V, G37R, H80R, and D125H) as well as a WT SOD1 using X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM). Results demonstrated that the SOD1 aggregates were metal-deficient within the cells, which is consistent with recent in vitro studies. In addition, all SOD1 mutants showed significantly decreased copper content compared to the WT SOD1 cells, regardless of the mutant’s ability to bind copper. These results suggest that SOD1 overexpression creates an unmet demand on the cell for copper. This is particularly true for the SOD1 mutants where copper delivery may also be impaired. Hence, the SOD1 mutants are less stable than WT SOD1 and if copper is limited, aggregate formation of the metal-deficient, mutant SOD1 protein occurs.
PMCID: PMC4059277  PMID: 24982630
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; superoxide dismutase; X-ray fluorescence microscopy; synchrotron
17.  An Analysis of Interactions between Fluorescently-Tagged Mutant and Wild-Type SOD1 in Intracellular Inclusions 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83981.
By mechanisms yet to be discerned, the co-expression of high levels of wild-type human superoxide dismutase 1 (hSOD1) with variants of hSOD1 encoding mutations linked familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS) hastens the onset of motor neuron degeneration in transgenic mice. Although it is known that spinal cords of paralyzed mice accumulate detergent insoluble forms of WT hSOD1 along with mutant hSOD1, it has been difficult to determine whether there is co-deposition of the proteins in inclusion structures.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In the present study, we use cell culture models of mutant SOD1 aggregation, focusing on the A4V, G37R, and G85R variants, to examine interactions between WT-hSOD1 and misfolded mutant SOD1. In these studies, we fuse WT and mutant proteins to either yellow or red fluorescent protein so that the two proteins can be distinguished within inclusions structures.
Although the interpretation of the data is not entirely straightforward because we have strong evidence that the nature of the fused fluorophores affects the organization of the inclusions that form, our data are most consistent with the idea that normal dimeric WT-hSOD1 does not readily interact with misfolded forms of mutant hSOD1. We also demonstrate the monomerization of WT-hSOD1 by experimental mutation does induce the protein to aggregate, although such monomerization may enable interactions with misfolded mutant SOD1. Our data suggest that WT-hSOD1 is not prone to become intimately associated with misfolded mutant hSOD1 within intracellular inclusions that can be generated in cultured cells.
PMCID: PMC3877123  PMID: 24391857
18.  Features of wild-type human SOD1 limit interactions with misfolded aggregates of mouse G86R Sod1 
Mutations in the gene encoding superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) account for about 20% of the cases of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). It is well established that mutations in SOD1, associated with fALS, heighten the propensity of the protein to misfold and aggregate. Although aggregation appears to be a factor in the toxicity of mutant SOD1s, the precise nature of this toxicity has not been elucidated. A number of other studies have now firmly established that raising the levels of wild-type (WT) human SOD1 (hSOD1) proteins can in some manner augment the toxicity of mutant hSOD1 proteins. However, a recent study demonstrated that raising the levels of WT-hSOD1 did not affect disease in mice that harbor a mouse Sod1 gene (mSod1) encoding a well characterized fALS mutation (G86R). In the present study, we sought a potential explanation for the differing effects with WT-hSOD1 on the toxicity of mutant hSOD1 versus mutant mSod1. In the cell culture models used here, we observe poor interactions between WT-hSOD1 and misfolded G86R-mSod1, possibly explaining why over-expression of WT-hSOD1 does not synergize with mutant mSod1 to accelerate the course of the disease in mice.
PMCID: PMC3881023  PMID: 24341866
Journal of neurochemistry  2008;108(4):1009-1018.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1, EC cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS); with aggregated forms of mutant protein accumulating in spinal cord tissues of transgenic mouse models and human patients. Mice over-expressing wild-type human SOD1 (WT hSOD1) do not develop ALS-like disease, but co-expression of WT enzyme at high levels with mutant SOD1 accelerates the onset of motor neuron disease compared to mice expressing mutant hSOD1 alone. Spinal cords of mice expressing both proteins contain aggregated forms of mutant protein and, in some cases, evidence of co-aggregation of WT hSOD1 enzyme. In the present study, we used a cell culture model of mutant SOD1 aggregation to examine how the presence of WT SOD1 affects mutant protein aggregation, finding that co-expression of WT SOD1, human (hSOD1) or mouse (mSOD1), delayed the formation of mutant hSOD1 aggregates; in essence appearing to slow the aggregation rate. In some combinations of WT and mutant hSOD1 co-expression, the aggregates that did eventually form appeared to contain WT hSOD1 protein. However, WT mSOD1 did not co-aggregate with mutant hSOD1 despite displaying a similar ability to slow mutant hSOD1 aggregation. Together, these studies indicate that WT SOD1 (human or mouse), when expressed at levels equivalent to the mutant protein, modulates aggregation of FALS-mutant hSOD1.
PMCID: PMC2801375  PMID: 19077113
superoxide; dismutase; aggregation; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
20.  Capsid Serotype and Timing of Injection Determines AAV Transduction in the Neonatal Mice Brain 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67680.
Adeno-associated virus (AAV) mediated gene expression is a powerful tool for gene therapy and preclinical studies. A comprehensive analysis of CNS cell type tropism, expression levels and biodistribution of different capsid serotypes has not yet been undertaken in neonatal rodents. Our previous studies show that intracerebroventricular injection with AAV2/1 on neonatal day P0 results in widespread CNS expression but the biodistribution is limited if injected beyond neonatal day P1. To extend these observations we explored the effect of timing of injection on tropism and biodistribution of six commonly used pseudotyped AAVs delivered in the cerebral ventricles of neonatal mice. We demonstrate that AAV2/8 and 2/9 resulted in the most widespread biodistribution in the brain. Most serotypes showed varying biodistribution depending on the day of injection. Injection on neonatal day P0 resulted in mostly neuronal transduction, whereas administration in later periods of development (24–84 hours postnatal) resulted in more non-neuronal transduction. AAV2/5 showed widespread transduction of astrocytes irrespective of the time of injection. None of the serotypes tested showed any microglial transduction. This study demonstrates that both capsid serotype and timing of injection influence the regional and cell-type distribution of AAV in neonatal rodents, and emphasizes the utility of pseudotyped AAV vectors for translational gene therapy paradigms.
PMCID: PMC3692458  PMID: 23825679
21.  Normal cognition in transgenic BRI2-Aβ mice 
Recent research in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) field has been focused on the potential role of the amyloid-β protein that is derived from the transmembrane amyloid precursor protein (APP) in directly mediating cognitive impairment in AD. Transgenic mouse models overexpressing APP develop robust AD-like amyloid pathology in the brain and show various levels of cognitive decline. In the present study, we examined the cognition of the BRI2-Aβ transgenic mouse model in which secreted extracellular Aβ1-40, Aβ1-42 or both Aβ1-40/Aβ1-42 peptides are generated from the BRI-Aβ fusion proteins encoded by the transgenes. BRI2-Aβ mice produce high levels of Aβ peptides and BRI2-Aβ1-42 mice develop amyloid pathology that is similar to the pathology observed in mutant human APP transgenic models.
Using established behavioral tests that reveal deficits in APP transgenic models, BRI2-Aβ1-42 mice showed completely intact cognitive performance at ages both pre and post amyloid plaque formation. BRI2-Aβ mice producing Aβ1-40 or both peptides were also cognitively intact.
These data indicate that high levels of Aβ1-40 or Aβ1-42, or both produced in the absence of APP overexpression do not reproduce memory deficits observed in APP transgenic mouse models. This outcome is supportive of recent data suggesting that APP processing derivatives or the overexpression of full length APP may contribute to cognitive decline in APP transgenic mouse models. Alternatively, Aβ aggregates may impact cognition by a mechanism that is not fully recapitulated in these BRI2-Aβ mouse models.
PMCID: PMC3658944  PMID: 23663320
Alzheimer’s disease; Mouse models; Amyloid-β; Amyloid plaques; Cognition
22.  Robust cytoplasmic accumulation of phosphorylated TDP-43 in transgenic models of tauopathy 
Acta Neuropathologica  2013;126(1):39-50.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) has been subdivided based on the main pathology found in the brains of affected individuals. When the primary pathology is aggregated, hyperphosphorylated tau, the pathological diagnosis is FTLD-tau. When the primary pathology is cytoplasmic and/or nuclear aggregates of phosphorylated TAR-DNA-binding protein (TDP-43), the pathological diagnosis is FTLD-TDP. Notably, TDP-43 pathology can also occur in conjunction with a number of neurodegenerative disorders; however, unknown environmental and genetic factors may regulate this TDP-43 pathology. Using transgenic mouse models of several diseases of the central nervous system, we explored whether a primary proteinopathy might secondarily drive TDP-43 proteinopathy. We found abnormal, cytoplasmic accumulation of phosphorylated TDP-43 specifically in two tau transgenic models, but TDP-43 pathology was absent in mouse models of Aβ deposition, α-synucleinopathy or Huntington’s disease. Though tau pathology showed considerable overlap with cytoplasmic, phosphorylated TDP-43, tau pathology generally preceded TDP-43 pathology. Biochemical analysis confirmed the presence of TDP-43 abnormalities in the tau mice, which showed increased levels of high molecular weight, soluble TDP-43 and insoluble full-length and ~35 kD TDP-43. These data demonstrate that the neurodegenerative cascade associated with a primary tauopathy in tau transgenic mice can also promote TDP-43 abnormalities. These findings provide the first in vivo models to understand how TDP-43 pathology may arise as a secondary consequence of a primary proteinopathy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1123-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3690181  PMID: 23666556
Tau; TDP-43; Mouse; Transgenic; Neuropathology, tauopathy; TDP-43 proteinopathies
23.  Analysis of Proteolytic Processes and Enzymatic Activities in the Generation of Huntingtin N-Terminal Fragments in an HEK293 Cell Model 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50750.
N-terminal fragments of mutant huntingtin (htt) that terminate between residues 90–115, termed cleavage product A or 1 (cp-A/1), form intracellular and intranuclear inclusion bodies in the brains of patients with Huntington's disease (HD). These fragments appear to be proteolytic products of the full-length protein. Here, we use an HEK293 cell culture model to investigate huntingtin proteolytic processing; previous studies of these cells have demonstrated cleavage of htt to cp-A/1 like htt fragments.
Recombinant N-terminal htt fragments, terminating at residue 171 (also referred to as cp-B/2 like), were efficiently cleaved to produce cp-A/1 whereas fragments representing endogenous caspase, calpain, and metalloproteinase cleavage products, terminating between residues 400–600, were inefficiently cleaved. Using cysteine-labeling techniques and antibody binding mapping, we localized the C-terminus of the cp-A/1 fragments produced by HEK293 cells to sequences minimally limited by cysteine 105 and an antibody epitope composed of residues 115–124. A combination of genetic and pharmacologic approaches to inhibit potential proteases, including γ-secretase and calpain, proved ineffective in preventing production of cp-A/1.
Our findings indicate that HEK293 cells express a protease that is capable of efficiently cleaving cp-B/2 like fragments of htt with normal or expanded glutamine repeats. For reasons that remain unclear, this protease cleaves longer htt fragments, with normal or expanded glutamine expansions, much less efficiently. The protease in HEK293 cells that is capable of generating a cp-A/1 like htt fragment may be a novel protease with a high preference for a cp-B/2-like htt fragment as substrate.
PMCID: PMC3517621  PMID: 23236391
24.  Correction: Identification of Proteins Sensitive to Thermal Stress in Human Neuroblastoma and Glioma Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):10.1371/annotation/82b96c01-6435-4856-80a6-0176b1986e32.
PMCID: PMC3552802
25.  Identification of Proteins Sensitive to Thermal Stress in Human Neuroblastoma and Glioma Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49021.
Heat-shock is an acute insult to the mammalian proteome. The sudden elevation in temperature has far-reaching effects on protein metabolism, leads to a rapid inhibition of most protein synthesis, and the induction of protein chaperones. Using heat-shock in cells of neuronal (SH-SY5Y) and glial (CCF-STTG1) lineage, in conjunction with detergent extraction and sedimentation followed by LC-MS/MS proteomic approaches, we sought to identify human proteins that lose solubility upon heat-shock. The two cell lines showed largely overlapping profiles of proteins detected by LC-MS/MS. We identified 58 proteins in detergent insoluble fractions as losing solubility in after heat shock; 10 were common between the 2 cell lines. A subset of the proteins identified by LC-MS/MS was validated by immunoblotting of similarly prepared fractions. Ultimately, we were able to definitively identify 3 proteins as putatively metastable neural proteins; FEN1, CDK1, and TDP-43. We also determined that after heat-shock these cells accumulate insoluble polyubiquitin chains largely linked via lysine 48 (K-48) residues. Collectively, this study identifies human neural proteins that lose solubility upon heat-shock. These proteins may represent components of the human proteome that are vulnerable to misfolding in settings of proteostasis stress.
PMCID: PMC3493505  PMID: 23145051

Results 1-25 (48)