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
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
Huntington's disease (HD), caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the huntingtin (HTT) gene, is characterized by abnormal protein aggregates and motor and cognitive dysfunction. Htt protein is ubiquitously expressed, but the striatal medium spiny neuron (MSN) is most susceptible to dysfunction and death. Abnormal gene expression represents a core pathogenic feature of HD, but the relative roles of cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous effects on transcription remain unclear. To determine the extent of cell-autonomous dysregulation in the striatum in vivo, we examined genome-wide RNA expression in symptomatic D9-N171-98Q (a.k.a. DE5) transgenic mice in which the forebrain expression of the first 171 amino acids of human Htt with a 98Q repeat expansion is limited to MSNs. Microarray data generated from these mice were compared with those generated on the identical array platform from a pan-neuronal HD mouse model, R6/2, carrying two different CAG repeat lengths, and a relatively high degree of overlap of changes in gene expression was revealed. We further focused on known canonical pathways associated with excitotoxicity, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, dopamine signaling and trophic support. While genes related to excitotoxicity, dopamine signaling and trophic support were altered in both DE5 and R6/2 mice, which may be either cell autonomous or non-cell autonomous, genes related to mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor are primarily affected in DE5 transgenic mice, indicating cell-autonomous mechanisms. Overall, HD-induced dysregulation of the striatal transcriptome can be largely attributed to intrinsic effects of mutant Htt, in the absence of expression in cortical neurons.
We have established functions of the stimulus dependent MAPKs, ERK1/2 and ERK5 in DRG, motor neuron, and Schwann cell development. Surprisingly, many aspects of early DRG and motor neuron development were found to be ERK1/2 independent and Erk5 deletion had no obvious effect on embryonic PNS. In contrast, Erk1/2 deletion in developing neural crest resulted in peripheral nerves that were devoid of Schwann cell progenitors, and deletion of Erk1/2 in Schwann cell precursors caused disrupted differentiation and marked hypomyelination of axons. The Schwann cell phenotypes are similar to those reported in neuregulin-1 and ErbB mutant mice and neuregulin effects could not be elicited in glial precursors lacking Erk1/2. ERK/MAPK regulation of myelination was specific to Schwann cells, as deletion in oligodendrocyte precursors did not impair myelin formation, but reduced precursor proliferation. Our data suggest a tight linkage between developmental functions of ERK/MAPK signaling and biological actions of specific RTK-activating factors.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease that causes major neurological disability in young adults. A definitive diagnosis at the time of the first episode is still lacking, but since early treatment leads to better prognosis, the search for early biomarkers is needed. Here we characterized the transcriptome of the choroid plexus (CP), which is part of the blood-brain barriers (BBBs) and the major site of cerebrospinal fluid production, in the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mouse model of MS. In addition, cerebrospinal fluid samples from two cohorts of patients with MS and with optic neuritis (ON) were analyzed to confirm the clinical relevance of the findings. Genes encoding for adhesion molecules, chemokines and cytokines displayed the most altered expression, supporting the role of CP as a site of immune-brain interaction in MS. The gene encoding for lipocalin 2 was the most up-regulated; notably, the cerebrospinal fluid lipocalin 2 levels coincided with the active phases of the disease. Immunostaining revealed that neutrophils infiltrating the CP were the source of the increased lipocalin 2 expression in this structure. However, within the brain, lipocalin 2 was also detected in astrocytes, particularly in regions typically affected in patients with MS. The increase of lipocalin 2 in the cerebrospinal fluid and in astrocytes was reverted by natalizumab treatment. Most importantly, the results obtained in the murine model were translatable into humans since patients from two different cohorts presented increased cerebrospinal fluid lipocalin 2 levels. The findings support lipocalin 2 as a valuable molecule for the diagnostic/monitoring panel of MS.
multiple sclerosis; lipocalin 2; experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; astrocytes; cerebrospinal fluid; natalizumab
Repulsive guidance molecule b (RGMb) is a bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) co-receptor and sensitizer of BMP signaling, highly expressed in adult dorsal root ganglion (DRG) sensory neurons. We used a murine RGMb knockout to gain insight into the physiological role of RGMb in the DRG, and address if RGMb-mediated modulation of BMP signaling influences sensory axon regeneration. No evidence for altered development of the peripheral and central nervous systems was detected in RGMb −/− mice. However, both cultured neonatal whole DRG explants and dissociated DRG neurons from RGMb −/− mice exhibited significantly fewer and shorter neurites than those from wildtype littermates, a phenomenon that could be fully rescued by BMP-2. Moreover, Noggin, an endogenous BMP signaling antagonist, inhibited neurite outgrowth in wild type DRG explants from naïve as well as nerve injury-preconditioned mice. Noggin is downregulated in the DRG after nerve injury, and its expression is highly correlated and inversely associated with the known regeneration-associated genes, which are induced in the DRG by peripheral axonal injury. We show that diminished BMP signaling in vivo, achieved either through RGMb deletion or BMP inhibition with Noggin, retarded early axonal regeneration after sciatic nerve crush injury. Our data suggest a positive modulatory contribution of RGMb and BMP signaling to neurite extension in vitro and early axonal re-growth after nerve injury in vivo and a negative effect of Noggin.
Stroke is the leading cause of disability in much of the world, with few treatment options available. Following unilateral stroke in rats, inosine, a naturally occurring purine nucleoside, stimulates the growth of projections from the undamaged hemisphere into denervated areas of the spinal cord and improves skilled use of the impaired forelimb. Inosine augments neurons’ intrinsic growth potential by activating Mst3b, a component of the signal-transduction pathway through which trophic factors regulate axon outgrowth. The present study investigated whether inosine would complement the effects of treatments that promote plasticity through other mechanisms. Following unilateral stroke in the rat forelimb motor area, inosine combined with NEP1-40, a Nogo receptor antagonist, doubled the number of axon branches extending from neurons in the intact hemisphere into the denervated side of the spinal cord compared to either treatment alone and restored rats’ level of skilled reaching using the impaired forepaw to preoperative levels. Similar functional improvements were seen when inosine was combined with environmental enrichment (EE). The latter effect was associated with changes in gene expression in layer 5 pyramidal neurons of the undamaged cortex well beyond those seen with inosine or EE alone. Inosine is now in clinical trials for other indications, making it an attractive candidate for the treatment of stroke patients.
Although peripheral nerves can regenerate after injury, proximal nerve injury in humans results in minimal restoration of motor function. One possible explanation for this is that injury-induced axonal growth is too slow. Heat shock protein 27 (Hsp27) is a regeneration-associated protein that accelerates axonal growth in vitro. Here, we have shown that it can also do this in mice after peripheral nerve injury. While rapid motor and sensory recovery occurred in mice after a sciatic nerve crush injury, there was little return of motor function after sciatic nerve transection, because of the delay in motor axons reaching their target. This was not due to a failure of axonal growth, because injured motor axons eventually fully re-extended into muscles and sensory function returned; rather, it resulted from a lack of motor end plate reinnervation. Tg mice expressing high levels of Hsp27 demonstrated enhanced restoration of motor function after nerve transection/resuture by enabling motor synapse reinnervation, but only within 5 weeks of injury. In humans with peripheral nerve injuries, shorter wait times to decompression surgery led to improved functional recovery, and, while a return of sensation occurred in all patients, motor recovery was limited. Thus, absence of motor recovery after nerve damage may result from a failure of synapse reformation after prolonged denervation rather than a failure of axonal growth.
Not all patients with nerve injury develop neuropathic pain. The extent of nerve damage and age at the time of injury are two of the few risk factors identified to date. In addition, preclinical studies show that neuropathic pain variance is heritable. To define such factors further, we performed a large-scale gene profiling experiment which plotted global expression changes in the rat dorsal root ganglion in three peripheral neuropathic pain models. This resulted in the discovery that the potassium channel alpha subunit KCNS1, involved in neuronal excitability, is constitutively expressed in sensory neurons and markedly downregulated following nerve injury. KCNS1 was then characterized by an unbiased network analysis as a putative pain gene, a result confirmed by single nucleotide polymorphism association studies in humans. A common amino acid changing allele, the ‘valine risk allele’, was significantly associated with higher pain scores in five of six independent patient cohorts assayed (total of 1359 subjects). Risk allele prevalence is high, with 18–22% of the population homozygous, and an additional 50% heterozygous. At lower levels of nerve damage (lumbar back pain with disc herniation) association with greater pain outcome in homozygote patients is P = 0.003, increasing to P = 0.0001 for higher levels of nerve injury (limb amputation). The combined P-value for pain association in all six cohorts tested is 1.14 E−08. The risk profile of this marker is additive: two copies confer the most, one intermediate and none the least risk. Relative degrees of enhanced risk vary between cohorts, but for patients with lumbar back pain, they range between 2- and 3-fold. Although work still remains to define the potential role of this protein in the pathogenic process, here we present the KCNS1 allele rs734784 as one of the first prognostic indicators of chronic pain risk. Screening for this allele could help define those individuals prone to a transition to persistent pain, and thus requiring therapeutic strategies or lifestyle changes that minimize nerve injury.
neuropathic pain; phenotype; molecular genetics; axonal injury; gene expression
Huntington Disease (HD) is a dominantly inherited, relentlessly progressive neurodegenerative disease. Caused by a polyglutamine expansion in the huntingtin protein (mutant huntingtin, mhtt), HD pathogenesis impairs function in the cerebral cortex and in medium spiny neurons of the striatum. HD is also characterized by the transcriptional dysregulation of a number of genes. Of these genes, the silencing of genes related to mitochondrial function is believed to explain metabolic dysfunction in rodent models of HD. Here we show that transglutaminase 2 (TG2), which is upregulated in HD, exacerbates transcriptional dysregulation by acting as a selective corepressor of nuclear genes. In a cellular model of HD, TG2 inhibition by RNA knockdown, genetic deletion, or administration of a novel, peptide-based irreversible TG2 inhibitor (ZDON), de-repressed two established regulators of mitochondrial function, PGC-1α and cytochrome c. We showed that TG2 must localize to non-coding or coding regions of these mitochondrial metabolic genes to silence their transcription. As expected, TG2 inhibition reversed the increased susceptibility of HD mouse cells and human HD myoblasts to the mitochondrial toxin, 3-nitroproprionic acid (3-NP); however, protection mediated by TG2 inhibition was not associated with improved mitochondrial bioenergetics. Indeed, an unbiased array analysis indicated that TG2 inhibition leads to normalization of not only mitochondrial genes but of nearly 40% of genes that are dysregulated in HD mouse striatal neurons, including chaperone and histone genes. Indeed, TG2 interacts directly with Histone H3 in the nucleus. Moreover, TG2 inhibition significantly attenuated photoreceptor degeneration in a Drosophila model of HD and protected mouse HD striatal neurons (YAC128) from NMDA-induced toxicity. Altogether these findings demonstrate that TG2 mediates its deleterious effects in HD by contributing to broad transcriptional dysregulation of genes representing many cellular functions. These studies define a novel HDAC-independent epigenetic strategy for treating neurodegeneration.
Transglutaminase; Huntington’s disease; transcriptional dysregulation; itochondrial bioenergetics; gene expression; epigenetics
Stroke is an age-related disease. Recovery after stroke is associated with axonal sprouting in cortex adjacent to the infarct. The molecular program that induces a mature cortical neuron to sprout a new connection after stroke is not known. We selectively isolated neurons that sprout a new connection in cortex after stroke and compared their whole-genome expression profile to that of adjacent, non-sprouting neurons. This ‘sprouting transcriptome’ identified a neuronal growth program that consists of growth factor, cell adhesion, axonal guidance and cytoskeletal modifying molecules that differed by age and time point. Gain and loss of function in three distinct functional classes showed new roles for these proteins in epigenetic regulation of axonal sprouting, growth factor–dependent survival of neurons and, in the aged mouse, paradoxical upregulation of myelin and ephrin receptors in sprouting neurons. This neuronal growth program may provide new therapeutic targets and suggest mechanisms for age-related differences in functional recovery.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is a central feature of a number of acute and chronic neurodegenerative conditions, but clinically approved therapeutic interventions are only just emerging. Here we demonstrate the potential clinical utility of low molecular weight inhibitors of the hypoxia inducible factor prolyl-4-hydroxylases (HIF PHDs) in preventing mitochondrial toxin-induced cell death in mouse striatal neurons that express a “knock-in” mutant Huntingtin allele. Protection from 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NP, a complex II inhibitor)-induced toxicity by HIF PHD inhibition occurs without rescue of succinate dehydrogenase activity. Although HIF-1α mRNA is dramatically induced by mutant huntingtin, HIF-1α depletion by short interfering RNAs (siRNA) does not affect steady-state viability or protection from 3-NP-induced death by HIF PHD inhibitors in these cells. Moreover, 3-NP-induced complex II inhibition in control or mutant striatal neurons does not lead to activation of HIF-dependent transcription. HIF PHD inhibition also protects cortical neurons from 3-NP-induced cytotoxicity. Protection of cortical neurons by HIF PHD inhibition correlates with enhanced VEGF but not PGC-1α gene expression. Together, these findings suggest that HIF PHD inhibitors are promising candidates for preventing cell death in conditions such as Huntington's disease and Alzheimer's disease that are associated with metabolic stress in the central nervous system. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 12, 435–443.
Although the gene expression profile of several tissues in humans and in rodent animal models has been explored, analysis of the complete choroid plexus (CP) transcriptome is still lacking. A better characterization of the CP transcriptome can provide key insights into its functions as one of the barriers that separate the brain from the periphery and in the production of cerebrospinal fluid.
This work extends further what is known about the mouse CP transcriptome through a microarray analysis of CP tissue from normal mice under physiological conditions.
We found that the genes most highly expressed are those implicated in energy metabolism (oxidative phosphorylation, glycolysis/gluconeogenesis) and in ribosomal function, which is in agreement with the secretory nature of the CP. On the other hand, genes encoding for immune mediators are among those with lower expression in basal conditions. In addition, we found genes known to be relevant during brain development, and not previously identified to be expressed in the CP, including those encoding for various axonal guidance and angiogenesis molecules and for growth factors. Some of these are known to influence the neural stem cell niche in the subventricular zone, highlighting the involvement of the CP as a likely modulator of neurogenesis. Interestingly, our observations confirm that the CP transcriptome is unique, displaying low homology with that of other tissues. Of note, we describe here that the closest similarity is with the transcriptome of the endothelial cells of the blood-brain barrier.
Based on the data presented here, it will now be possible to further explore the function of particular proteins of the CP secretome in health and in disease.
Despite advances in promoting axonal regeneration after acute spinal cord injury (SCI), elicitation of bridging axon regeneration after chronic SCI remains a formidable challenge. We report that combinatorial therapies administered 6 weeks, and as long as 15 months, after SCI promote axonal regeneration into and beyond a mid-cervical lesion site. Provision of peripheral nerve conditioning lesions, grafts of marrow stromal cells and establishment of NT-3 gradients, supports bridging regeneration. Controls receiving partial components of the full combination fail to exhibit bridging. Notably, intraneuronal molecular mechanisms recruited by delayed therapies mirror those of acute injury, including activation of transcriptional activators and regeneration-associated genes. Collectively, these findings provide evidence that regeneration is achievable at unprecedented post-injury time points.
Caused by a polyglutamine expansion in the huntingtin protein, Huntington's disease leads to striatal degeneration via the transcriptional dysregulation of a number of genes, including those involved in mitochondrial biogenesis. Here we show that transglutaminase 2, which is upregulated in HD, exacerbates transcriptional dysregulation by acting as a selective corepressor of nuclear genes; transglutaminase 2 interacts directly with histone H3 in the nucleus. In a cellular model of HD, transglutaminase inhibition de-repressed two established regulators of mitochondrial function, PGC-1α and cytochrome c and reversed susceptibility of human HD cells to the mitochondrial toxin, 3-nitroproprionic acid; however, protection mediated by transglutaminase inhibition was not associated with improved mitochondrial bioenergetics. A gene microarray analysis indicated that transglutaminase inhibition normalized expression of not only mitochondrial genes but also 40% of genes that are dysregulated in HD striatal neurons, including chaperone and histone genes. Moreover, transglutaminase inhibition attenuated degeneration in a Drosophila model of HD and protected mouse HD striatal neurons from excitotoxicity. Altogether these findings demonstrate that selective TG inhibition broadly corrects transcriptional dysregulation in HD and defines a novel HDAC-independent epigenetic strategy for treating neurodegeneration.
transglutaminase; Huntington's disease; transcriptional dysregulation; mitochondrial bioenergetics; ZDON
A major challenge for neurological therapeutics is the development of small molecule drugs that can activate a panoply of downstream pathways without toxicity. Over the past decade our group has shown that a family of enzymes that regulate posttranscriptional and transcriptional adaptive responses to hypoxia are viable targets for neuronal protection and repair. The family is a group of iron, oxygen, and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases, known as the HIF prolyl 4-hydroxylases (HIF PHDs). We have previously shown that pluripotent protection offered by iron chelators is mediated, in part, via the ability of these agents to inhibit the HIF PHDs. Our group and others have implicated the transcriptional activator HIF-1 in some of the salutary effects of iron chelation-induced PHD inhibition. While some iron chelators are currently employed in humans for conditions such as hemochromatosis, the diverse utilization of iron in physiological processes in the brain makes the development of HIF activators that do not bind iron a high priority. Here we report the development of a high throughput screen to develop novel HIF activators and/or PHD inhibitors for therapeutic use in the central nervous system (CNS). We show that tilorone, a low-molecular weight, antiviral, immunomodulatory agent is the most effective activator of the HIF pathway in a neuronal line. We also show that tilorone enhances HIF protein levels and increases the expression of downstream target genes independent of iron chelation and HIF PHD inhibition in vitro. We further demonstrate that tilorone can activate an HIF-regulated reporter gene in the CNS. These studies confirm that tilorone can penetrate the blood–brain barrier to activate HIF in the CNS. As expected from these findings, we show that tilorone provides effective prophylaxis against permanent ischemic stroke and traumatic spinal cord injury in male rodents. Altogether these findings identify tilorone as a novel and potent modulator of HIF-mediated gene expression in neurons with neuroprotective properties.
homeostasis; hypoxia; hypoxia inducible factor; iron; hypoxia response element; erythropoietin; vascular endothelial growth factor; tilorone; desferrioxamine; prolyl hydroxylase