Animals have many ways of protecting themselves against stress; for example, they can induce animal-wide, stress-protective pathways and they can kill damaged cells via apoptosis. We have discovered an unexpected regulatory relationship between these two types of stress responses. We find that C. elegans mutations blocking the normal course of programmed cell death and clearance confer animal-wide resistance to a specific set of environmental stressors; namely, ER, heat and osmotic stress. Remarkably, this pattern of stress resistance is induced by mutations that affect cell death in different ways, including ced-3 (cell death defective) mutations, which block programmed cell death, ced-1 and ced-2 mutations, which prevent the engulfment of dying cells, and progranulin (pgrn-1) mutations, which accelerate the clearance of apoptotic cells. Stress resistance conferred by ced and pgrn-1 mutations is not additive and these mutants share altered patterns of gene expression, suggesting that they may act within the same pathway to achieve stress resistance. Together, our findings demonstrate that programmed cell death effectors influence the degree to which C. elegans tolerates environmental stress. While the mechanism is not entirely clear, it is intriguing that animals lacking the ability to efficiently and correctly remove dying cells should switch to a more global animal-wide system of stress resistance.
As an animal interacts with its environment, it invariably encounters stressful conditions such as extreme temperatures, drought, UV exposure and harmful xenobiotics. Since the ability to respond appropriately to stressful stimuli is paramount to survival, organisms have developed sophisticated stress response programs. Some stressful conditions cause damaged cells to commit suicide (undergo apoptosis), whereas others cause the entire organism to develop mechanisms to resist environmental stress. Studying the small roundworm C. elegans, we find that these two responses are somehow linked: perturbing the mechanisms that allow cells to undergo apoptosis changes the whole animal's response to environmental stress. In fact, perturbing the apoptosis machinery in any way—through mutations that prevent apoptosis altogether, or through mutations that either slow or accelerate the clearance of dying cells—causes the animal to become more stress resistant. Together our findings raise the possibility that the animal may have a way of detecting defects in the normal programmed cell death pathway, and that in response it induces a new program that protects itself from a harsh environment.
Presynaptic differentiation of axons plays a fundamental role in the establishment of neuronal connectivity. However, the mechanisms that govern presynaptic differentiation in the brain remain largely to be elucidated. We report that knockdown of the transcription factor MEF2A in primary neurons and importantly in the rat cerebellar cortex in vivo robustly increases the density of orphan presynaptic sites. Remarkably, the sumoylated transcriptional repressor form of MEF2A drives the suppression of orphan presynaptic sites. We also identify the gene encoding synaptotagmin 1 (Syt1), which acts locally at presynaptic sites, as a direct repressed target gene of sumoylated MEF2A in neurons, and demonstrate that repression of Syt1 mediates MEF2A-dependent elimination of orphan presynaptic sites. Finally, we uncover a role for the MEF2A-induced elimination of orphan presynaptic sites in the accumulation of presynaptic material at large maturing presynaptic boutons. Collectively, these findings define sumoylated MEF2A and Syt1 as components of a novel cell-intrinsic mechanism that orchestrates presynaptic differentiation in the mammalian brain. Our study has important implications for understanding neuronal connectivity in brain development and disease.
To describe the phenotype of patients with C9FTD/ALS (C9ORF72) hexanucleotide repeat expansion.
A total of 648 patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD)–related clinical diagnoses and Alzheimer disease (AD) dementia were tested for C9ORF72 expansion and 31 carried expanded repeats (C9+). Clinical and neuroimaging data were compared between C9+ (15 behavioral variant FTD [bvFTD], 11 FTD–motor neuron disease [MND], 5 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS]) and sporadic noncarriers (48 bvFTD, 19 FTD-MND, 6 ALS).
All C9+ patients displayed clinical syndromes of bvFTD, ALS, or FTD-MND. At first evaluation, C9+ bvFTD patients had more delusions and greater impairment of working memory, but milder eating dysregulation compared to bvFTD noncarriers. C9+FTD-MND patients had a trend for longer survival and had an earlier age at onset than FTD-MND noncarriers. Voxel-based morphometry demonstrated more thalamic atrophy in FTD and FTD-MND carriers than in noncarriers.
Patients with the C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion develop bvFTD, ALS, or FTD-MND with similar clinical and imaging features to sporadic cases. Other FTD spectrum diagnoses and AD dementia appear rare or absent among C9+ individuals. Longer survival in C9+ FTD-MND suggests slower disease progression and thalamic atrophy represents a novel and unexpected feature.
The immense molecular diversity of neurons challenges our ability to understand the genetic and cellular etiology of neuropsychiatric disorders. Leveraging knowledge from neurobiology may help parse the genetic complexity: identifying genes important for a circuit that mediates a particular symptom of a disease may help identify polymorphisms that contribute to risk for the disease as a whole. The serotonergic system has long been suspected in disorders that have symptoms of repetitive behaviors and resistance to change, including autism. We generated a bacTRAP mouse line to permit translational profiling of serotonergic neurons. From this, we identified several thousand serotonergic-cell expressed transcripts, of which 174 were highly enriched, including all known markers of these cells. Analysis of common variants near the corresponding genes in the AGRE collection implicated the RNA binding protein CELF6 in autism risk. Screening for rare variants in CELF6 identified an inherited premature stop codon in one of the probands. Subsequent disruption of Celf6 in mice resulted in animals exhibiting resistance to change and decreased ultrasonic vocalization as well as abnormal levels of serotonin in the brain. This work provides a reproducible and accurate method to profile serotonergic neurons under a variety of conditions and suggests a novel paradigm for gaining information on the etiology of psychiatric disorders.
Rare mutations in the gene encoding for tau (MAPT, microtubule-associated protein tau) cause frontotemporal dementia-spectrum (FTD-s) disorders, including FTD, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and corticobasal syndrome, and a common extended haplotype spanning across the MAPT locus is associated with increased risk of PSP and Parkinson's disease. We identified a rare tau variant (p.A152T) in a patient with a clinical diagnosis of PSP and assessed its frequency in multiple independent series of patients with neurodegenerative conditions and controls, in a total of 15 369 subjects.
Tau p.A152T significantly increases the risk for both FTD-s (n = 2139, OR = 3.0, CI: 1.6–5.6, P = 0.0005) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) (n = 3345, OR = 2.3, CI: 1.3–4.2, P = 0.004) compared with 9047 controls. Functionally, p.A152T (i) decreases the binding of tau to microtubules and therefore promotes microtubule assembly less efficiently; and (ii) reduces the tendency to form abnormal fibers. However, there is a pronounced increase in the formation of tau oligomers. Importantly, these findings suggest that other regions of the tau protein may be crucial in regulating normal function, as the p.A152 residue is distal to the domains considered responsible for microtubule interactions or aggregation. These data provide both the first genetic evidence and functional studies supporting the role of MAPT p.A152T as a rare risk factor for both FTD-s and AD and the concept that rare variants can increase the risk for relatively common, complex neurodegenerative diseases, but since no clear significance threshold for rare genetic variation has been established, some caution is warranted until the findings are further replicated.
Subcellular localization of mRNA enables compartmentalized regulation within large cells. Neurons are the longest known cells, however so far evidence is lacking for an essential role of endogenous mRNA localization in axons. Localized upregulation of importin β1 in lesioned axons coordinates a retrograde injury signaling complex transported to the neuronal cell body. Here we show that a long 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) directs axonal localization of importin β1. Conditional targeting of this 3′UTR region in mice causes subcellular loss of importin β1 mRNA and protein in axons, without affecting cell body levels or nuclear functions in sensory neurons. Strikingly, axonal knockout of importin β1 attenuates cell body transcriptional responses to nerve injury and delays functional recovery in vivo. Thus, localized translation of importin β1 mRNA enables separation of cytoplasmic and nuclear transport functions of importins, and is required for efficient retrograde signaling in injured axons.
Oncogenic transformation of postmitotic neurons triggers cell death, but the identity of genes critical for degeneration remain unclear. The antitumor antibiotic mithramycin prolongs survival of mouse models of Huntington’s disease in vivo and inhibits oxidative stress-induced death in cortical neurons in vitro. We had correlated protection by mithramycin with its ability to bind to GC-rich DNA and globally displace Sp1 family transcription factors. To understand how antitumor drugs prevent neurodegeneration, here we use structure-activity relationships of mithramycin analogs to discover that selective DNA-binding inhibition of the drug is necessary for its neuroprotective effect. We identify several genes (Myc, c-Src, Hif1α, and p21waf1/cip1) involved in neoplastic transformation, whose altered expression correlates with protective doses of mithramycin or its analogs. Most interestingly, inhibition of one these genes, Myc, is neuroprotective, whereas forced expression of Myc induces Rattus norvegicus neuronal cell death. These results support a model in which cancer cell transformation shares key genetic components with neurodegeneration.
We used affinity-purification mass spectrometry to identify 747 candidate proteins that are complexed with Huntingtin (Htt) in distinct brain regions and ages in Huntington’s disease (HD) and wildtype mouse brains. To gain a systems-level view of the Htt interactome, we applied Weighted Gene Correlation Network Analysis (WGCNA) to the entire proteomic dataset to unveil a verifiable rank of Htt-correlated proteins and a network of Htt-interacting protein modules, with each module highlighting distinct aspects of Htt biology. Importantly, the Htt-containing module is highly enriched with proteins involved in 14-3-3 signaling, microtubule-based transport, and proteostasis. Top-ranked proteins in this module were validated as novel Htt interactors and genetic modifiers in an HD Drosophila model. Together, our study provides a compendium of spatiotemporal Htt-interacting proteins in the mammalian brain, and presents a conceptually novel approach to analyze proteomic interactome datasets to build in vivo protein networks in complex tissues such as the brain.
Convergent evidence suggests that oxidative stress plays a central role in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We asked if consequently, oxidation of methionine residues to methionine sulfoxide (MetO) increased in plasma proteins of persons carrying familial AD (FAD) mutations.
Plasma was collected from 31 persons from families harboring PSEN1 or APP mutations. Using Western blot analysis with a novel anti-MetO polyclonal antibody, MetO levels were measured and compared between FAD mutation carriers (MCs) and non-mutation carrying (NCs) kin.
A MetO-positive 120 kDa gel band distinguished FAD MCs and NCs (mean 11.4 ± 2.8 vs. 4.0 ± 3.1, p = 0.02). In a subset of subjects for whom both measurements were available, MetO levels correlated well with plasma F2-isoprostane (r = 0.81, p < 0.001) and superoxide dismutase 1 (r = 0.52, p = 0.004) levels.
Our data provide evidence for elevated MetO levels in persons carrying FAD mutations that correlate with other indices of oxidative stress and suggest that plasma oxidative stress markers may be useful for diagnosis of AD.
oxidative stress; isoprostanes; plasma; superoxide dismutase; presenilin-1; amyloid β-protein precursor
Previous studies indicate that peripheral nerve conditioning lesions significantly enhance central axonal regeneration via modulation of cAMP-mediated mechanisms. To gain insight into the nature and temporal dependence of neural mechanisms underlying conditioning lesion effects on central axonal regeneration, we compared the efficacy of peripheral sciatic nerve crush lesions to cAMP elevations (in lumbar dorsal root ganglia) on central sensory axonal regeneration when administered either before or after cervical spinal cord lesions. We found significantly greater effects of conditioning lesions compared to cAMP elevations on central axonal regeneration when combined with cellular grafts at the lesion site and viral neurotrophin delivery; further, these effects persisted whether conditioning lesions were applied prior to or shortly after spinal cord injury. Indeed, conditioning lesions recruited extensively greater sets of genetic mechanisms of possible relevance to axonal regeneration compared to cAMP administration, and sustained these changes for significantly greater time periods through the post-lesion period. We conclude that cAMP-mediated mechanisms account for only a portion of the potency of conditioning lesions on central axonal regeneration, and that recruitment of broader genetic mechanisms can extend the effect and duration of cellular events that support axonal growth.
neurotrophin-3; CTB; regeneration; spinal cord injury; microarray; dorsal column sensory; lentivirus
Cannabinoids are known to exert immunosuppressive activities. However, the mechanisms which contribute to these effects are unknown. Using lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to activate BV-2 microglial cells, we examined how Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive component of marijuana, and cannabidiol (CBD) the non-psychoactive component, modulate the inflammatory response. Microarray analysis of genome-wide mRNA levels was performed using Illumina platform and the resulting expression patterns analyzed using the Ingenuity Pathway Analysis to identify functional subsets of genes, and the Ingenuity System Database to denote the gene networks regulated by CBD and THC. From the 5338 transcripts that were differentially expressed across treatments, 400 transcripts were found to be upregulated by LPS, 502 by CBD+LPS and 424 by THC+LPS, while 145 were downregulated by LPS, 297 by CBD+LPS and 149 by THC+LPS, by 2-fold or more (p≤0.005). Results clearly link the effects of CBD and THC to inflammatory signaling pathways and identify new cannabinoid targets in the MAPK pathway (Dusp1, Dusp8, Dusp2), cell cycle related (Cdkn2b, Gadd45a) as well as JAK/STAT regulatory molecules (Socs3, Cish, Stat1). The impact of CBD on LPS-stimulated gene expression was greater than that of THC. We attribute this difference to the fact that CBD highly upregulated several genes encoding negative regulators of both NFκB and AP-1 transcriptional activities, such as Trib3 and Dusp1 known to be modulated through Nrf2 activation. The CBD-specific expression profile reflected changes associated with oxidative stress and glutathione depletion via Trib3 and expression of ATF4 target genes. Furthermore, the CBD affected genes were shown to be controlled by nuclear factors usually involved in regulation of stress response and inflammation, mainly via Nrf2/Hmox1 axis and the Nrf2/ATF4-Trib3 pathway. These observations indicate that CBD, and less so THC, induce a cellular stress response and that this response underlies their high immunosuppressant activities.
Progranulin (GRN) mutations cause frontotemporal dementia (FTD), but GRN’s function in the CNS remains largely unknown. To identify the pathways downstream of GRN, we used weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) to develop a systems-level view of transcriptional alterations in a human neural progenitor model of GRN-deficiency. This highlighted key pathways such as apoptosis and ubiquitination in GRN deficient human neurons, while revealing an unexpected major role for the Wnt signaling pathway, which was confirmed by analysis of gene expression data from postmortem FTD brain. Furthermore, we observed that the Wnt receptor Fzd2 was one of only a few genes up-regulated at 6 weeks in a GRN knockout mouse, and that FZD2 reduction caused increased apoptosis, while its upregulation promoted neuronal survival in vitro. Together, these in vitro and in vivo data point to an adaptive role for altered Wnt signaling in GRN deficiency-mediated FTD, representing a potential therapeutic target.
Progranulin; Frontotemporal Dementia; Wnt; Fzd2; WGCNA
Inflammation features in CNS disorders such as stroke, trauma, neurodegeneration, infection, and autoimmunity in which astrocytes play critical roles. To elucidate how inflammatory mediators alter astrocyte functions, we examined effects of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and interferon-gamma (IFNγ), alone and in combination, on purified, mouse primary cortical astrocyte cultures. We used microarrays to conduct whole-genome expression profiling, and measured calcium signaling, which is implicated in mediating dynamic astrocyte functions. Combinatorial exposure to TGF-β1, LPS, and IFNγ significantly modulated astrocyte expression of >6800 gene probes, including >380 synergistic changes not predicted by summing individual treatment effects. Bioinformatic analyses revealed significantly and markedly upregulated molecular networks and pathways associated in particular with immune signaling and regulation of cell injury, death, growth, and proliferation. Highly regulated genes included chemokines, growth factors, enzymes, channels, transporters, and intercellular and intracellular signal transducers. Notably, numerous genes for G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and G-protein effectors involved in calcium signaling were significantly regulated, mostly down (for example, Cxcr4, Adra2a, Ednra, P2y1, Gnao1, Gng7), but some up (for example, P2y14, P2y6, Ccrl2, Gnb4). We tested selected cases and found that changes in GPCR gene expression were accompanied by significant, parallel changes in astrocyte calcium signaling evoked by corresponding GPCR-specific ligands. These findings identify pronounced changes in the astrocyte transcriptome induced by TGF-β1, LPS, and IFNγ, and show that these inflammatory stimuli upregulate astrocyte molecular networks associated with immune- and injury-related functions and significantly alter astrocyte calcium signaling stimulated by multiple GPCRs.
Sporadic-onset ataxia is common in a tertiary care setting but a significant percentage remains unidentified despite extensive evaluation. Rare genetic ataxias, reported only in specific populations or families, may contribute to a percentage of sporadic ataxia.
Patients with adult-onset sporadic ataxia, who tested negative for common genetic ataxias (SCA1, SCA2, SCA3, SCA6, SCA7, and/or Friedreich ataxia), were evaluated using a stratified screening approach for variants in seven rare ataxia genes.
We screened patients for published mutations in SYNE1 (n=80) and TGM6 (n=118), copy number variations in LMNB1 (n=40) and SETX (n=11), sequence variants in SACS (n=39) and PDYN (n=119), and the pentanucleotide insertion of spinocerebellar ataxia type 31 (n=101). Overall, we identified one patient with a LMNB1 duplication, one patient with a PDYN variant, and one compound SACS heterozygote, including a novel variant.
The rare genetic ataxias examined here do not significantly contribute to sporadic cerebellar ataxia in our tertiary care population.
Cerebellar Ataxia; Spinocerebellar Ataxia; Dominant Genetic Conditions; Recessive Genetic Conditions; Copy Number Variation
Biological markers of utility in tracking Alzheimer's disease (AD) during the presymptomatic prodromal phase are important for prevention studies. Changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of 42-amino-acid β-amyloid (Aβ42), total tau protein (t-tau) and phosphorylated tau at residue 181 (p-tau181) during this state are incompletely characterized.
We measured CSF markers in 13 carriers of familial AD (FAD) mutations that are fully penetrant for causing AD (PSEN1 and APP) and in 5 non-mutation-carrying family members.
Even among the entirely presymptomatic mutation carriers (n = 9), Aβ42 was diminished (388.7 vs. 618.4 pg/ml, p = 0.004), and t-tau (138.5 vs. 50.5 pg/ml, p = 0.002) and p-tau181 (71.7 vs. 24.6 pg/ml, p = 0.003) were elevated. There was a negative correlation between Aβ42 levels and age relative to the family-specific age of dementia diagnosis.
Our data are consistent with a decline in CSF Aβ42 levels occurring at least 20 years prior to clinical dementia in FAD.
Cerebrospinal fluid; Biomarkers; Familial Alzheimer's disease, presymptomatic; PSEN1 gene; APP gene; tau protein; β-Amyloid, 42-amino-acid form
Myoclonus is characterized by sudden, brief involuntary movements and its presence is debilitating. We identified a family suffering from adult-onset, cortical myoclonus without associated seizures. We performed clinical, electrophysiological, and genetic studies to define this phenotype.
A large, four-generation family with history of myoclonus underwent careful questioning, examination, and electrophysiological testing. Thirty-five family members donated blood samples for genetic analysis, which included SNP mapping, microsatellite linkage, targeted massively parallel sequencing, and Sanger sequencing. In silico and in vitro experiments were performed to investigate functional significance of the mutation.
We identified 11 members of a Canadian Mennonite family suffering from adult-onset, slowly progressive, disabling, multifocal myoclonus. Somatosensory evoked potentials indicated a cortical origin of the myoclonus. There were no associated seizures. Some severely affected individuals developed signs of progressive cerebellar ataxia of variable severity late in the course of their illness. The phenotype was inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion. We demonstrated linkage to chromosome 16q21-22.1. We then sequenced all coding sequence in the critical region, identifying only a single co-segregating, novel, nonsynonymous mutation, which resides in the gene NOL3. Furthermore, this mutation was found to alter post-translational modification of NOL3 protein in vitro.
We propose that Familial Cortical Myoclonus (FCM) is a novel movement disorder that may be caused by mutation in NOL3. Further investigation of the role of NOL3 in neuronal physiology may shed light on neuronal membrane hyperexcitability and pathophysiology of myoclonus and related disorders.
The pathogenic mechanisms of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) remain poorly understood. Here we generated multiple induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines from a control subject, a patient with sporadic FTD, and an FTD patient with a novel GRN mutation (PGRN S116X). In neurons and microglia differentiated from PGRN S116X iPSCs, the levels of intracellular and secreted progranulin were reduced, establishing patient-specific cellular models of progranulin haploinsufficiency. Through a systematic screen of inducers of cellular stress, we found that PGRN S116X neurons, but not sporadic FTD neurons, exhibited increased sensitivity to staurosporine and other kinase inhibitors. Moreover, the serine/threonine kinase S6K2, a component of the PI3K and MAPK pathways, was specifically downregulated in PGRN S116X neurons. Both increased sensitivity to kinase inhibitors and reduced S6K2 were rescued by progranulin expression. Our findings identify cell-autonomous, reversible defects in patient neurons with progranulin deficiency and provide a new model for studying progranulin-dependent pathogenic mechanisms and testing potential therapies.
frontotemporal dementia; haploinsufficiency; iPSCs; kinases; microglia; neurons; progranulin; stress; S6K2
Oligomerization of amyloid beta (Aβ) is a hypothesized step in the formation of plaques in Alzheimer's disease (AD) but has been difficult to demonstrate in vivo in humans. As persons destined to develop familial AD (FAD) due to fully penetrant autosomal dominant mutations are essentially certain to develop the disease, they provide the opportunity to identify oligomers during the presymptomatic stage of the disease.
We measured levels of Aβ42 using a conventional immunoassay and prefibrillar, fibrillar, and annular protofibrillar oligomers using polyclonal conformation-dependent antibodies in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 7 persons at risk for inheriting FAD mutations. Levels of oligomers were compared between FAD mutation carriers and noncarriers.
Compared to 2 noncarriers, annular protofibrillar oligomers were elevated, prefibrillar and fibrillar oligomers trended towards elevation and Aβ42 monomer trended towards being decreased in 5 FAD mutation carriers.
Our data provide evidence for an identifiable elevation of CSF oligomers during the presymptomatic phase of FAD.
Presymptomatic; Alzheimer's disease; Oligomer; Aβ; Aβ42; Cerebrospinal fluid; Presenilin-1; Amyloid precursor protein; Conformation
We examined whether the effect of APOE genotype on functional brain connectivity is modulated by gender in healthy older human adults. Our results confirm significantly decreased connectivity in the default mode network in healthy older APOE ε4 carriers compared to ε3 homozygotes. More importantly, further testing revealed a significant interaction between APOE genotype and gender in the precuneus, a major default mode hub. Female ε4 carriers showed significantly reduced default mode connectivity compared to either female ε3 homozygotes or male ε4 carriers, whereas male ε4 carriers differed minimally from male ε3 homozygotes. An additional analysis in an independent sample of healthy elderly using an independent marker of Alzheimer’s disease, i.e. spinal fluid levels of tau, provided corresponding evidence for this gender by APOE interaction. Taken together, these results converge with previous work showing a higher prevalence of the ε4 allele among women with Alzheimer’s disease and, critically, demonstrate that this interaction between APOE genotype and gender is detectable in the preclinical period.
Several families have been reported with autosomal dominant frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), genetically linked to chromosome 9p21. Here we report an expansion of a non-coding GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in the gene C9ORF72 that is strongly associated with disease in a large FTD/ALS kindred, previously reported to be conclusively linked to chromosome 9p. This same repeat expansion was identified in the majority of our families with a combined FTD/ALS phenotype and TDP-43 based pathology. Analysis of extended clinical series found the C9ORF72 repeat expansion to be the most common genetic abnormality in both familial FTD (11.7%) and familial ALS (22.5%). The repeat expansion leads to the loss of one alternatively spliced C9ORF72 transcript and to formation of nuclear RNA foci, suggesting multiple disease mechanisms. Our findings indicate that repeat expansion in C9ORF72 is a major cause of both FTD and ALS.
Some patients meeting behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) diagnostic criteria progress slowly and plateau at mild symptom severity. Such patients have mild neuropsychological and functional impairments, lack characteristic bvFTD brain atrophy, and have thus been referred to as bvFTD “phenocopies” or slowly progressive (bvFTD-SP). The few patients with bvFTD-SP that have been studied at autopsy have found no evidence of FTD pathology, suggesting that bvFTD-SP is neuropathologically distinct from other forms of FTD. Here, we describe two patients with bvFTD-SP with chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) hexanucleotide expansions.
Three hundred and eighty-four patients with FTD clinical spectrum and Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses were screened for C9ORF72 expansion. Two bvFTD-SP mutation carriers were identified. Neuropsychological and functional data, as well as brain atrophy patterns assessed using voxel-based morphometry (VBM), were compared with 44 patients with sporadic bvFTD and 85 healthy controls.
Both patients were age 48 at baseline and met possible bvFTD criteria. In the first patient, VBM revealed thalamic and posterior insula atrophy. Over seven years, his neuropsychological performance and brain atrophy remained stable. In the second patient, VBM revealed cortical atrophy with subtle frontal and insular volume loss. Over two years, her neuropsychological and functional scores as well as brain atrophy remained stable.
C9ORF72 mutations can present with a bvFTD-SP phenotype. Some bvFTD-SP patients may have neurodegenerative pathology, and C9ORF72 mutations should be considered in patients with bvFTD-SP and a family history of dementia or motor neuron disease.
C9ORF72; C9FTD/ALS; frontotemporal dementia; genetics; dementia
Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease is a genetically heterogeneous group of motor and sensory neuropathies associated with mutations in more than 30 genes. Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease type 4J (OMIM 611228) is a recessive, potentially severe form of the disease caused by mutations of the lipid phosphatase FIG4. We provide a more complete view of the features of this disorder by describing 11 previously unreported patients with Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease type 4J. Three patients were identified from a small cohort selected for screening because of their early onset disease and progressive proximal as well as distal weakness. Eight patients were identified by large-scale exon sequencing of an unselected group of 4000 patients with Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease. In addition, 34 new FIG4 variants were detected. Ten of the new CMT4J cases have the compound heterozygous genotype FIG4I41T/null described in the original four families, while one has the novel genotype FIG4L17P/null. The population frequency of the I41T allele was found to be 0.001 by genotyping 5769 Northern European controls. Thirty four new variants of FIG4 were identified. The severity of Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease type 4J ranges from mild clinical signs to severe disability requiring the use of a wheelchair. Both mild and severe forms have been seen in patients with the same genotype. The results demonstrate that Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease type 4J is characterized by highly variable onset and severity, proximal as well as distal and asymmetric muscle weakness, electromyography demonstrating denervation in proximal and distal muscles, and frequent progression to severe amyotrophy. FIG4 mutations should be considered in Charcot–Marie–Tooth patients with these characteristics, especially if found in combination with sporadic or recessive inheritance, childhood onset and a phase of rapid progression.
Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease; neurodegenerative disorders; clinical characteristics; demyelinating disease; molecular genetics
R6/2 transgenic mice with expanded CAG repeats (>300) have a surprisingly prolonged disease progression and longer lifespan than prototypical parent R6/2 mice (carrying 150 CAGs), however, the mechanism of this phenotype amelioration is unknown. We compared gene expression profiles in the striatum of R6/2 transgenic mice carrying ~300 CAG repeats (R6/2Q300 transgenic mice), those carrying ~150 CAG repeats (R6/2Q150 transgenic mice) and littermate wt controls in order to identify genes that may play determinant roles in the time course of phenotypic expression in these mice. Of the top genes showing concordant expression changes in the striatum of both R6/2 lines, 85% were decreased in expression, while discordant expression changes were observed mostly for genes upregulated in R6/2Q300 transgenic mice. Upregulated genes in the R6/2Q300 mice were associated with the ubiquitin ligase complex, cell adhesion, protein folding and establishment of protein localization. We qPCR-validated increases in expression of genes related to the latter category, including Lrsam1, Erp29, Nasp, Tap1, Rab9b and Pfdn5 in R6/2Q300 mice, changes that were not observed in R6/2 mice with shorter CAG repeats, even in late stages (i.e. 12 weeks of age). We further tested Lrsam1 and Erp29, the two genes showing the greatest upregulation in R6/2Q300 transgenic mice, for potential neuroprotective effects in primary striatal cultures overexpressing a mutated human huntingtin (htt) fragment. Overexpression of Lrsam1 prevented the loss of NeuN-positive cell bodies in htt171-82Q cultures, concomitant with a reduction of nuclear htt aggregates. Erp29 showed no significant effects in this model. This is consistent with the distinct pattern of htt inclusion localization observed in R6/2Q300 transgenic mice, in which smaller cytoplasmic inclusions represent the major form of insoluble htt in the cell, as opposed to large nuclear inclusions observed in R6/2Q150 transgenic mice. We suggest that the prolonged onset and disease course observed in R6/2 mice with greatly expanded CAG repeats might result from differential upregulation of genes related to protein localization and clearance. Such genes may represent novel therapeutic avenues to decrease htt aggregate toxicity and cell death in HD patients, with Lrsam1 being a promising, novel candidate disease modifier.
Huntington's disease; striatum; gene expression; inclusion; neuroprotection
Sox2 is expressed by neural stem and progenitor cells, and a sox2 enhancer identifies these cells in the forebrains of both fetal and adult transgenic mouse reporters. We found that an adenovirus encoding EGFP placed under the regulatory control of a 0.4 kb sox2 core enhancer selectively identified multipotential and self-renewing neural progenitor cells in dissociates of human fetal forebrain. Upon EGFP-based fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS), the E/sox2:EGFP+ isolates were propagable for up to a year in vitro, and remained multilineage competent throughout. E/sox2:EGFP+ cells expressed more telomerase enzymatic activity than matched sox2-depleted populations, and maintained their telomeric lengths with successive passage. Gene expression analysis of E/sox2:EGFP-sorted neural progenitor cells, normalized to the unsorted forebrain dissociates from which they derived, revealed marked over-expression of genes within the notch and wnt pathways, and identified multiple elements of each pathway that appear selective to human neural progenitors. Sox2 enhancer-based FACS thus permits the prospective identification and direct isolation of a telomerase-active population of neural stem cells from the human fetal forebrain, and the elucidation of both the transcriptome and dominant signaling pathways of these critically important cells.
Neural stem cells; telomerase; gene expression; cell sorting