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1.  Genome-wide association study of corticobasal degeneration identifies risk variants shared with progressive supranuclear palsy 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7247.
Corticobasal degeneration (CBD) is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting movement and cognition, definitively diagnosed only at autopsy. Here, we conduct a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in CBD cases (n=152) and 3,311 controls, and 67 CBD cases and 439 controls in a replication stage. Associations with meta-analysis were 17q21 at MAPT (P=1.42 × 10−12), 8p12 at lnc-KIF13B-1, a long non-coding RNA (rs643472; P=3.41 × 10−8), and 2p22 at SOS1 (rs963731; P=1.76 × 10−7). Testing for association of CBD with top progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) GWAS single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) identified associations at MOBP (3p22; rs1768208; P=2.07 × 10−7) and MAPT H1c (17q21; rs242557; P=7.91 × 10−6). We previously reported SNP/transcript level associations with rs8070723/MAPT, rs242557/MAPT, and rs1768208/MOBP and herein identified association with rs963731/SOS1. We identify new CBD susceptibility loci and show that CBD and PSP share a genetic risk factor other than MAPT at 3p22 MOBP (myelin-associated oligodendrocyte basic protein).
Corticobasal degeneration is a rare neurodegenerative disorder that can only be definitively diagnosed by autopsy. Here, Kouri et al. conduct a genome-wide-association study and identify two genetic susceptibility loci 17q21 (MAPT) and 3p12 (MOBP), and a novel susceptibility locus at 8p12.
PMCID: PMC4469997  PMID: 26077951
2.  Identification of Stably Expressed lncRNAs as Valid Endogenous Controls for Profiling of Human Glioma 
Journal of Cancer  2015;6(2):111-119.
Background: Recent research indicates that long non-coding RNAs (lncRNA) represent a new family of RNAs that is of fundamental importance for controlling transcription and translation. Thereby, there is increasing evidence that lncRNAs are also important in tumourigenesis. Thereby valid expression profiling using quantitative PCR requires suitable, stably expressed normalisers to achieve reliable and reproducible data. However, no systematic analysis of suitable references in lncRNA studies in human glioma has been performed yet.
Methods: In this study, we investigated 90 lncRNAs in 30 tissue specimen for the expression stability in human diffuse astrocytoma (WHO-Grade II), anaplastic astrocytoma (WHO-Grade III) and glioblastoma (WHO-Grade IV) both alone as well as in comparison with normal white matter. Our identification procedure included a rigorous bioinformatical selection process that resulted in the inclusion of only highly abundant, equally expressed lncRNAs for further analysis. Additionally, lncRNAs were classified according to their stability value using the NormFinder algorithm.
Results: We identified 24 appropriate normalisers suitable for studies in diffuse astrocytoma, 22 for studies in anaplastic astrocytoma and 12 for studies in glioblastoma. Comparing all three glioma entities 7 lncRNAs showed stable expression levels. Addition of normal brain tissue resulted in only 4 suitable lncRNAs.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that 4 lncRNAs (HOXA6as, H19 upstream conserved 1 and 2, Zfhx2as and BC200) are suitable as normalisers in glioma and normal brain. These lncRNAs may thus be regarded as universal references being applicable for the accurate normalisation of lncRNA expression profiling in various glioma (WHO-Grades II-IV) alone and in combination with brain tissue. This enables to perform valid longitudinal studies, e.g. of glioma before and after malignisation to identify changes of lncRNA expressions probably driving malignant transformation.
PMCID: PMC4280393  PMID: 25561975
long non-coding RNA; lncRNA; Glioma; References; qPCR; Profiling.
3.  Microglial Cx3cr1 knockout prevents neuron loss in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease 
Nature neuroscience  2010;13(4):411-413.
Microglia, the immune cells of the brain, can have a beneficial effect in Alzheimer’s disease by phagocytosing amyloid-β. Two-photon in vivo imaging of neuron loss in the intact brain of living Alzheimer’s disease mice revealed an involvement of microglia in neuron elimination, indicated by locally increased number and migration velocity of microglia around lost neurons. Knockout of the microglial chemokine receptor Cx3cr1, which is critical in neuron-microglia communication, prevented neuron loss.
PMCID: PMC4072212  PMID: 20305648
4.  Prediction of oligodendroglial histology and LOH 1p/19q using dynamic [18F]FET-PET imaging in intracranial WHO grade II and III gliomas 
Neuro-Oncology  2012;14(12):1473-1480.
Oligodendroglial components (OC) and loss of heterozygosity on chromosomes 1p and 19q (LOH 1p/19q) are associated with better outcome in patients with glioma. We aimed to assess the fitness of [18F]fluoroethyltyrosine positron-emission-tomography (FET-PET) for noninvasively identifying these important prognostic/predictive factors. One hundred forty-four patients with MRI-suspected WHO grade II and III glioma underwent FET-PET scans prior to histological diagnosis. FET-PET analyses included maximal tumoral uptake (SUVmax/BG), biological tumor volume (BTV), mean tumoral uptake (SUVmean/BG), total tumoral uptake (SUVtotal/BG), and kinetic analysis. Suspicion of OC was based on static and dynamic FET-uptake parameters. PET results were correlated with histology and 1p/19q status. OC tumors exhibited significantly higher uptake values, compared with astrocytomas (AC) (SUVmax/BG 3.1 vs 2.3, BTV 15.5 mL vs 7.2 mL, SUVtotal/BG 38.5 vs 17.4, P < .01 each; SUVmean/BG 2.2 vs 2.1, P < .05). These differences were more pronounced in WHO grade II gliomas. Comparable results were found with respect to 1p/19q status. Kinetic analysis misclassified 18 of 34 low-grade OC tumors as high-grade glioma but misclassified only 5 of 45 of the low-grade ACs. FET-based suspicion of OC resulted in concordance rates of both 76% for the prediction of OC and LOH 1p/19q. FET-uptake was significantly higher in gliomas with OC, compared with AC, and likewise in 1p/19q codeleted, compared with noncodeleted tumors. However, FET-PET analysis did not reliably predict the presence of OC/LOH 1p/19q in the individual patient, mostly because of an overlap in PET characteristics of OC tumors and high-grade AC. Histological examination is still required for an accurate diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3499015  PMID: 23090986
FET-PET; FET uptake; glioma; kinetic analysis; LOH1p/19q; oligodendroglial tumor components
5.  Length of normal alleles of C9ORF72 GGGGCC repeat do not influence disease phenotype 
Neurobiology of aging  2012;33(12):2950.e5-2950.e7.
Expansions of the non-coding GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) gene were recently identified as the long sought-after cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on chromosome 9p. In this study we aimed to determine whether the length of the normal - unexpanded - allele of the GGGGCC repeat in C9ORF72 plays a role in the presentation of disease or affects age at onset in C9ORF72 mutation carriers. We also studied whether the GGGGCC repeat length confers risk or affects age at onset in FTD and ALS patients without C9ORF72 repeat expansions. C9ORF72 genotyping was performed in 580 FTD, 995 ALS and 160 FTD-ALS patients and 1444 controls, leading to the identification of 211 patients with pathogenic C9ORF72 repeat expansions and an accurate quantification of the length of the normal alleles in all patients and controls. No meaningful association between the repeat length of the normal alleles of the GGGGCC repeat in C9ORF72 and disease phenotype or age at onset was observed in C9ORF72 mutation carriers or non-mutation carriers.
PMCID: PMC3617405  PMID: 22840558
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal Dementia; C9ORF72; Repeat-expansion disease; Association study
6.  Establishing quantitative real-time quaking-induced conversion (qRT-QuIC) for highly sensitive detection and quantification of PrPSc in prion-infected tissues 
PrPSc, the only known constituent of prions, the infectious agents causing prion diseases, can be detected by real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC). However, there is no efficient method to quantify the amount of PrPSc by RT-QuIC.
Here we introduce quantitative RT-QuIC (qRT-QuIC) to quantify with high accuracy minute amounts of PrPSc in the brain and various peripheral tissues at levels far below detection by in vivo transmission. PrPSc is relatively resistant to treatment with proteinase K (PK). However, as there can also be a fraction of pathological PrP that is digested by PK, we use the term PrP27-30 to denote to the amount of PrPSc that can be detected by immunoblot after PK treatment. qRT-QuIC is based upon the quantitative correlation between the seeded amount of PrP27-30 and the lag time to the start of the conversion reaction detected by RT-QuIC. By seeding known amounts of PrP27-30 quantified by immunoblot into qRT-QuIC a standard calibration curve can be obtained. Based on this calibration curve, seeded undetermined amounts of PrP27-30 can be directly calculated. qRT-QuIC allowed to quantify PrP27-30 concentrations at extremely low levels as low as 10-15.5 g PrP27-30, which corresponds to 0.001 LD50 units obtained by in vivo i.c. transmission studies. We find that PrP27-30 concentration increases steadily in the brain after inoculation and can be detected at various time points during the incubation period in peripheral organs (spleen, heart, muscle, liver, kidney) in two experimental scrapie strains (RML, ME7) in the mouse.
We suggest that an automatic quantitative system to measure disease progression as well as prion contamination of organs, blood and food product is feasible. Moreover, the concept of qRT-QuIC should be applicable to measure other disease-associated proteins rich in β-pleated structures (amyloid) that bind ThT and that show seeded aggregation.
PMCID: PMC3893511  PMID: 24252329
Prion; PrPSc; PrP27-30; Quantitative RT-QuIC
7.  Consensus classification of human prion disease histotypes allows reliable identification of molecular subtypes: an inter-rater study among surveillance centres in Europe and USA 
Acta neuropathologica  2012;124(4):517-529.
The current classification of human sporadic prion diseases recognizes six major phenotypic subtypes with distinctive clinicopathological features, which largely correlate at the molecular level with the genotype at the polymorphic codon 129 (methionine, M, or valine, V) in the prion protein gene and with the size of the protease-resistant core of the abnormal prion protein, PrPSc (i.e. type 1 migrating at 21 kDa and type 2 at 19 kDa). We previously demonstrated that PrPSc typing by Western blotting is a reliable means of strain typing and disease classification. Limitations of this approach, however, particularly in the interlaboratory setting, are the association of PrPSc types 1 or 2 with more than one clinicopathological phenotype, which precludes definitive case classification if not supported by further analysis, and the difficulty of fully recognizing cases with mixed phenotypic features. In this study, we tested the inter-rater reliability of disease classification based only on histopathological criteria. Slides from 21 cases covering the whole phenotypic spectrum of human sporadic prion diseases, and also including two cases of variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD), were distributed blindly to 13 assessors for classification according to given instructions. The results showed good-to-excellent agreement between assessors in the classification of cases. In particular, there was full agreement (100 %) for the two most common sporadic CJD subtypes and variant CJD, and very high concordance in general for all pure phenotypes and the most common subtype with mixed phenotypic features. The present data fully support the basis for the current classification of sporadic human prion diseases and indicate that, besides molecular PrPSc typing, histopathological analysis permits reliable disease classification with high interlaboratory accuracy.
PMCID: PMC3725314  PMID: 22744790
8.  Concomitant TAR-DNA-Binding Protein 43 Pathology Is Present in Alzheimer Disease and Corticobasal Degeneration but Not in Other Tauopathies 
Pathologic TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is a disease protein in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We studied the presence, frequency, and distribution of TDP-43 pathology by immunohistochemistry and biochemistry in a series of clinically well-characterized tauopathy patient brains, including 182 Alzheimer disease (AD), 39 corticobasal degeneration, 77 progressive supranuclear palsy, and 12 Pick disease cases and investigated the clinical impact of concomitant TDP-43 pathology in these cases. TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 pathology was found in 25.8% of AD cases. It was restricted to the dentate gyrus and entorhinal cortex in approximately 75% of cases; approximately 25% showed more widespread TDP-43 pathology in frontal and temporal cortices, resembling the FTLD-U subtype associated with progranulin mutations. TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 pathology in AD was associated with significantly longer disease duration, but there was no association with the clinical presentation (148 cases diagnosed as AD and 34 cases diagnosed as frontotemporal lobar degeneration). Progressive supranuclear palsy and Pick disease cases showed no TDP-43 inclusions and no biochemical alterations of TDP-43. There was, however, a unique, predominantly glial TDP-43 pathology with staining of astrocytic plaque-like structures and coiled bodies in 15.4% of corticobasal degeneration cases; this was associated with biochemical TDP-43 changes similar to those in FTLD-U. These findings provide further insight into the burden and clinical significance of TDP-43 pathology in disorders other than FTLD-U and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3659339  PMID: 18520774
Alzheimer disease; Corticobasal degeneration; Frontotemporal dementia; Tauopathy; TDP-43
9.  Anle138b: a novel oligomer modulator for disease-modifying therapy of neurodegenerative diseases such as prion and Parkinson’s disease 
Acta Neuropathologica  2013;125(6):795-813.
In neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and prion diseases, deposits of aggregated disease-specific proteins are found. Oligomeric aggregates are presumed to be the key neurotoxic agent. Here we describe the novel oligomer modulator anle138b [3-(1,3-benzodioxol-5-yl)-5-(3-bromophenyl)-1H-pyrazole], an aggregation inhibitor we developed based on a systematic high-throughput screening campaign combined with medicinal chemistry optimization. In vitro, anle138b blocked the formation of pathological aggregates of prion protein (PrPSc) and of α-synuclein (α-syn), which is deposited in PD and other synucleinopathies such as dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and multiple system atrophy (MSA). Notably, anle138b strongly inhibited all prion strains tested including BSE-derived and human prions. Anle138b showed structure-dependent binding to pathological aggregates and strongly inhibited formation of pathological oligomers in vitro and in vivo both for prion protein and α-synuclein. Both in mouse models of prion disease and in three different PD mouse models, anle138b strongly inhibited oligomer accumulation, neuronal degeneration, and disease progression in vivo. Anle138b had no detectable toxicity at therapeutic doses and an excellent oral bioavailability and blood–brain-barrier penetration. Our findings indicate that oligomer modulators provide a new approach for disease-modifying therapy in these diseases, for which only symptomatic treatment is available so far. Moreover, our findings suggest that pathological oligomers in neurodegenerative diseases share structural features, although the main protein component is disease-specific, indicating that compounds such as anle138b that modulate oligomer formation by targeting structure-dependent epitopes can have a broad spectrum of activity in the treatment of different protein aggregation diseases.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1114-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3661926  PMID: 23604588
10.  Genome-wide association study in multiple human prion diseases suggests genetic risk factors additional to PRNP 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(8):1897-1906.
Prion diseases are fatal neurodegenerative diseases of humans and animals caused by the misfolding and aggregation of prion protein (PrP). Mammalian prion diseases are under strong genetic control but few risk factors are known aside from the PrP gene locus (PRNP). No genome-wide association study (GWAS) has been done aside from a small sample of variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD). We conducted GWAS of sporadic CJD (sCJD), variant CJD (vCJD), iatrogenic CJD, inherited prion disease, kuru and resistance to kuru despite attendance at mortuary feasts. After quality control, we analysed 2000 samples and 6015 control individuals (provided by the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium and KORA-gen) for 491032-511862 SNPs in the European study. Association studies were done in each geographical and aetiological group followed by several combined analyses. The PRNP locus was highly associated with risk in all geographical and aetiological groups. This association was driven by the known coding variation at rs1799990 (PRNP codon 129). No non-PRNP loci achieved genome-wide significance in the meta-analysis of all human prion disease. SNPs at the ZBTB38–RASA2 locus were associated with CJD in the UK (rs295301, P = 3.13 × 10−8; OR, 0.70) but these SNPs showed no replication evidence of association in German sCJD or in Papua New Guinea-based tests. A SNP in the CHN2 gene was associated with vCJD [P = 1.5 × 10−7; odds ratio (OR), 2.36], but not in UK sCJD (P = 0.049; OR, 1.24), in German sCJD or in PNG groups. In the overall meta-analysis of CJD, 14 SNPs were associated (P < 10−5; two at PRNP, three at ZBTB38–RASA2, nine at nine other independent non-PRNP loci), more than would be expected by chance. None of the loci recently identified as genome-wide significant in studies of other neurodegenerative diseases showed any clear evidence of association in prion diseases. Concerning common genetic variation, it is likely that the PRNP locus contains the only strong risk factors that act universally across human prion diseases. Our data are most consistent with several other risk loci of modest overall effects which will require further genetic association studies to provide definitive evidence.
PMCID: PMC3313791  PMID: 22210626
11.  Involvement of presenilin holoprotein upregulation in calcium dyshomeostasis of Alzheimer's disease 
Mutations in presenilins (PS1 and PS2) account for the vast majority of early onset familial Alzheimer's disease cases. Beside the well investigated role of presenilins as the catalytic unit in γ-secretase complex, their involvement in regulation of intracellular calcium homeostasis has recently come into more focus of Alzheimer's disease research. Here we report that the overexpression of PS1 full-length holoprotein forms, in particular familial Alzheimer's disease-causing forms of PS1, result in significantly attenuated calcium release from thapsigargin- and bradykinin-sensitive stores. Interestingly, treatment of HEK293 cells with γ-secretase inhibitors also leads to decreased amount of calcium release from endoplasmic reticulum (ER) accompanying elevated PS1 holoprotein levels. Similarly, the knockdown of PEN-2 which is associated with deficient PS1 endoproteolysis and accumulation of its holoprotein form also leads to decreased ER calcium release. Notably, we detected enhanced PS1 holoprotein levels also in postmortem brains of patients carrying familial Alzheimer's disease PS1 mutations. Taken together, the conditions in which the amount of full length PS1 holoprotein is increased result in reduction of calcium release from ER. Based on these results, we propose that the disturbed ER calcium homeostasis mediated by the elevation of PS1 holoprotein levels may be a contributing factor to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease.
PMCID: PMC3822592  PMID: 23379308
presenilin; holoprotein; calcium; Alzheimer's disease; endoplasmic reticulum
12.  Long-Term In Vivo Imaging of Fibrillar Tau in the Retina of P301S Transgenic Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e53547.
Tauopathies are widespread neurodegenerative disorders characterised by the intracellular accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau. Especially in Alzheimer's disease, pathological alterations in the retina are discussed as potential biomarkers to improve early diagnosis of the disease. Using mice expressing human mutant P301S tau, we demonstrate for the first time a straightforward optical approach for the in vivo detection of fibrillar tau in the retina. Longitudinal examinations of individual animals revealed the fate of single cells containing fibrillar tau and the progression of tau pathology over several months. This technique is most suitable to monitor therapeutic interventions aimed at reducing the accumulation of fibrillar tau. In order to evaluate if this approach can be translated to human diagnosis, we tried to detect fibrillar protein aggregates in the post-mortem retinas of patients that had suffered from Alzheimer's disease or Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. Even though we could detect hyperphosphorylated tau, we did not observe any fibrillar tau or Aß aggregates. In contradiction to previous studies, our observations do not support the notion that Aβ or tau in the retina are of diagnostic value in Alzheimer's disease.
PMCID: PMC3534024  PMID: 23300938
13.  Differential Sialylation of Serpin A1 in the Early Diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease Dementia 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48783.
The prevalence of Parkinson’s disease (PD) increases with age. Up to 50% of PD show cognitive decline in terms of a mild cognitive impairment already in early stages that predict the development of dementia, which can occur in up to 80% of PD patients over the long term, called Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD). So far, diagnosis of PD/PDD is made according to clinical and neuropsychological examinations while laboratory data is only used for exclusion of other diseases. The aim of this study was the identification of possible biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of PD, PDD and controls (CON) which predict the development of dementia in PD. For this, a proteomic approach optimized for CSF was performed using 18 clinically well characterized patients in a first step with subsequent validation using 84 patients. Here, we detected differentially sialylated isoforms of Serpin A1 as marker for differentiation of PD versus PDD in CSF. Performing 2D-immunoblots, all PDD patients could be identified correctly (sensitivity 100%). Ten out of 24 PD patients showed Serpin A1 isoforms in a similar pattern like PDD, indicating a specificity of 58% for the test-procedure. In control samples, no additional isoform was detected. On the basis of these results, we conclude that differentially sialylated products of Serpin A1 are an interesting biomarker to indicate the development of a dementia during the course of PD.
PMCID: PMC3493604  PMID: 23144969
14.  Amyloid plaque formation precedes dendritic spine loss 
Acta Neuropathologica  2012;124(6):797-807.
Amyloid-beta plaque deposition represents a major neuropathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. While numerous studies have described dendritic spine loss in proximity to plaques, much less is known about the kinetics of these processes. In particular, the question as to whether synapse loss precedes or follows plaque formation remains unanswered. To address this question, and to learn more about the underlying kinetics, we simultaneously imaged amyloid plaque deposition and dendritic spine loss by applying two-photon in vivo microscopy through a cranial window in double transgenic APPPS1 mice. As a result, we first observed that the rate of dendritic spine loss in proximity to plaques is the same in both young and aged animals. However, plaque size only increased significantly in the young cohort, indicating that spine loss persists even many months after initial plaque appearance. Tracking the fate of individual spines revealed that net spine loss is caused by increased spine elimination, with the rate of spine formation remaining constant. Imaging of dendritic spines before and during plaque formation demonstrated that spine loss around plaques commences at least 4 weeks after initial plaque formation. In conclusion, spine loss occurs, shortly but with a significant time delay, after the birth of new plaques, and persists in the vicinity of amyloid plaques over many months. These findings hence give further hope to the possibility that there is a therapeutic window between initial amyloid plaque deposition and the onset of structural damage at spines.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-012-1047-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3508278  PMID: 22993126
Alzheimer’s disease; Two-photon in vivo imaging; Dendritic spines; Amyloid plaque; Kinetics; Structural plasticity
15.  FET proteins TAF15 and EWS are selective markers that distinguish FTLD with FUS pathology from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with FUS mutations 
Brain  2011;134(9):2595-2609.
Accumulation of the DNA/RNA binding protein fused in sarcoma as cytoplasmic inclusions in neurons and glial cells is the pathological hallmark of all patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with mutations in FUS as well as in several subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration, which are not associated with FUS mutations. The mechanisms leading to inclusion formation and fused in sarcoma-associated neurodegeneration are only poorly understood. Because fused in sarcoma belongs to a family of proteins known as FET, which also includes Ewing’s sarcoma and TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15, we investigated the potential involvement of these other FET protein family members in the pathogenesis of fused in sarcoma proteinopathies. Immunohistochemical analysis of FET proteins revealed a striking difference among the various conditions, with pathology in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with FUS mutations being labelled exclusively for fused in sarcoma, whereas fused in sarcoma-positive inclusions in subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration also consistently immunostained for TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15 and variably for Ewing’s sarcoma. Immunoblot analysis of proteins extracted from post-mortem tissue of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with fused in sarcoma pathology demonstrated a relative shift of all FET proteins towards insoluble protein fractions, while genetic analysis of the TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15 and Ewing’s sarcoma gene did not identify any pathogenic variants. Cell culture experiments replicated the findings of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with FUS mutations by confirming the absence of TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15 and Ewing’s sarcoma alterations upon expression of mutant fused in sarcoma. In contrast, all endogenous FET proteins were recruited into cytoplasmic stress granules upon general inhibition of Transportin-mediated nuclear import, mimicking the findings in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with fused in sarcoma pathology. These results allow a separation of fused in sarcoma proteinopathies caused by FUS mutations from those without a known genetic cause based on neuropathological features. More importantly, our data imply different pathological processes underlying inclusion formation and cell death between both conditions; the pathogenesis in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with FUS mutations appears to be more restricted to dysfunction of fused in sarcoma, while a more global and complex dysregulation of all FET proteins is involved in the subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with fused in sarcoma pathology.
PMCID: PMC3170539  PMID: 21856723
FUS; TAF15; EWS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia
16.  Single-Channel Electrophysiology Reveals a Distinct and Uniform Pore Complex Formed by α-Synuclein Oligomers in Lipid Membranes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42545.
Synucleinopathies such as Parkinson's disease, multiple system atrophy and dementia with Lewy bodies are characterized by deposition of aggregated α-synuclein. Recent findings indicate that pathological oligomers rather than fibrillar aggregates may represent the main toxic protein species. It has been shown that α-synuclein oligomers can increase the conductance of lipid bilayers and, in cell-culture, lead to calcium dyshomeostasis and cell death. In this study, employing a setup for single-channel electrophysiology, we found that addition of iron-induced α-synuclein oligomers resulted in quantized and stepwise increases in bilayer conductance indicating insertion of distinct transmembrane pores. These pores switched between open and closed states depending on clamped voltage revealing a single-pore conductance comparable to that of bacterial porins. Pore conductance was dependent on transmembrane potential and the available cation. The pores stably inserted into the bilayer and could not be removed by buffer exchange. Pore formation could be inhibited by co-incubation with the aggregation inhibitor baicalein. Our findings indicate that iron-induced α-synuclein oligomers can form a uniform and distinct pore species with characteristic electrophysiological properties. Pore formation could be a critical event in the pathogenesis of synucleinopathies and provide a novel structural target for disease-modifying therapy.
PMCID: PMC3411845  PMID: 22880029
17.  Mutations in the colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) cause hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids 
Nature Genetics  2011;44(2):200-205.
Hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) is an autosomal dominantly inherited central nervous system white matter disease with variable clinical presentations including personality and behavioral changes, dementia, depression, parkinsonism, seizures, and others1,2. We combined genome-wide linkage analysis with exome sequencing and identified 14 different mutations affecting the tyrosine kinase domain of the colony stimulating factor receptor 1 (encoded by CSF1R) in 14 families affected by HDLS. In one kindred, the de novo occurrence of the mutation was confirmed. Follow-up sequencing analyses identified an additional CSF1R mutation in a patient clinically diagnosed with corticobasal syndrome (CBS). In vitro, CSF-1 stimulation resulted in the rapid autophosphorylation of selected tyrosine-residues in the kinase domain of wild-type but not mutant CSF1R, suggesting that HDLS may result from a partial loss of CSF1R function. Since CSF1R is a critical mediator of microglial proliferation and differentiation in the brain, our findings suggest an important role for microglial dysfunction in HDLS pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3267847  PMID: 22197934
18.  Synergistic influence of phosphorylation and metal ions on tau oligomer formation and coaggregation with α-synuclein at the single molecule level 
Fibrillar amyloid-like deposits and co-deposits of tau and α-synuclein are found in several common neurodegenerative diseases. Recent evidence indicates that small oligomers are the most relevant toxic aggregate species. While tau fibril formation is well-characterized, factors influencing tau oligomerization and molecular interactions of tau and α-synuclein are not well understood.
We used a novel approach applying confocal single-particle fluorescence to investigate the influence of tau phosphorylation and metal ions on tau oligomer formation and its coaggregation with α-synuclein at the level of individual oligomers. We show that Al3+ at physiologically relevant concentrations and tau phosphorylation by GSK-3β exert synergistic effects on the formation of a distinct SDS-resistant tau oligomer species even at nanomolar protein concentration. Moreover, tau phosphorylation and Al3+ as well as Fe3+ enhanced both formation of mixed oligomers and recruitment of α-synuclein in pre-formed tau oligomers.
Our findings provide a new perspective on interactions of tau phosphorylation, metal ions, and the formation of potentially toxic oligomer species, and elucidate molecular crosstalks between different aggregation pathways involved in neurodegeneration.
PMCID: PMC3472288  PMID: 22824345
α-Synuclein, Metal ion, Oligomer, Phosphorylation, Tau, Iron, Aluminium, GSK-3 beta, Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease
19.  Intramedullary pilomyxoid astrocytoma with intracerebral metastasis exhibiting oligoden-droglioma-like features 
Rare Tumors  2012;4(2):e30.
Intramedullary glioma are rare and their biological behaviour can differ from their cerebral counterparts. Pilomyxoid astrocytoma (PMA, WHO grade II), predominantly occur in the hypothalamic/chiasmatic region of infants and children. The few reported cases of pediatric intramedullary PMA displayed a particularly aggressive behavior. Here, we report a diagnostically challenging case of a five year old female patient presenting with intramedullary glioma and local tumor recurrence three years later. Twelve years after the initial manifestation, a second tumor was found intracerebrally. We performed a comprehensive histological, molecular pathological and imaging analysis of the tumors from both localizations. The results revealed a metastasizing PMA with unique histological and genetic features. Our study indicates that PMA comprise a heterogeneous group including aggressive subtypes which may not be compatible with the current classification according to WHO grade II. Furthermore, the case emphasizes the increasing relevance of molecular pathological markers complementing classic histo-logical diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3401158  PMID: 22826787
intramedullary glioma; pilomyxoid astrocytoma; metastasis; 1p19q.
20.  Diphenylpyrazole-Derived Compounds Increase Survival Time of Mice after Prion Infection▿ 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2011;55(10):4774-4781.
Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) represent a group of fatal neurodegenerative disorders that can be transmitted by natural infection or inoculation. TSEs include scrapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans. The emergence of a variant form of CJD (vCJD), which has been associated with BSE, produced strong pressure to search for effective treatments with new drugs. Up to now, however, TSEs have proved incurable, although many efforts have been made both in vitro and in vivo to search for potent therapeutic and prophylactic compounds. For this purpose, we analyzed a compound library consisting of 10,000 compounds with a cell-based high-throughput screening assay dealing with scrapie-infected scrapie mouse brain and ScN2A cells and identified a new class of inhibitors consisting of 3,5-diphenylpyrazole (DPP) derivatives. The most effective DPP derivative showed half-maximal inhibition of PrPSc formation at concentrations (IC50) of 0.6 and 1.2 μM, respectively. This compound was subsequently subjected to a number of animal experiments using scrapie-infected wild-type C57BL/6 and transgenic Tga20 mice. The DPP derivative induced a significant increase of incubation time both in therapeutic and prophylactic experiments. The onset of the prion disease was delayed by 37 days after intraperitoneal and 42 days after oral application, respectively. In summary, we demonstrate a high in vitro efficiency of DPP derivatives against prion infections that was substantiated in vivo for one of these compounds. These results indicate that the novel class of DPP compounds should comprise excellent candidates for future therapeutic studies.
PMCID: PMC3186986  PMID: 21746938
21.  Structural synaptic elements are differentially regulated in superior temporal cortex of schizophrenia patients 
Inaccurate wiring and synaptic pathology appear to be major hallmarks of schizophrenia. A variety of gene products involved in synaptic neurotransmission and receptor signaling are differentially expressed in brains of schizophrenia patients. However, synaptic pathology may also develop by improper expression of intra- and extra-cellular structural elements weakening synaptic stability. Therefore, we have investigated transcription of these elements in the left superior temporal gyrus of 10 schizophrenia patients and 10 healthy controls by genome-wide microarrays (Illumina). Fourteen up-regulated and 22 downregulated genes encoding structural elements were chosen from the lists of differentially regulated genes for further qRT-PCR analysis. Almost all genes confirmed by this method were downregulated. Their gene products belonged to vesicle-associated proteins, that is, synaptotagmin 6 and syntaxin 12, to cytoskeletal proteins, like myosin 6, pleckstrin, or to proteins of the extracellular matrix, such as collagens, or laminin C3. Our results underline the pivotal roles of structural genes that control formation and stabilization of pre- and post-synaptic elements or influence axon guidance in schizophrenia. The glial origin of collagen or laminin highlights the close interrelationship between neurons and glial cells in establishment and maintenance of synaptic strength and plasticity. It is hypothesized that abnormal expression of these and related genes has a major impact on the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00406-012-0306-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3464383  PMID: 22441714
Schizophrenia; Superior temporal cortex; Cytoskeleton; Synaptic plasticity; Gene expression; Microarray
22.  CSF Concentrations of cAMP and cGMP Are Lower in Patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease but Not Parkinson's Disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32664.
The cyclic nucleotides cyclic adenosine-3′,5′-monophosphate (cAMP) and cyclic guanosine-3′,5′-monophosphate (cGMP) are important second messengers and are potential biomarkers for Parkinson's disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here, we investigated by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of cAMP and cGMP of 82 patients and evaluated their diagnostic potency as biomarkers. For comparison with a well-accepted biomarker, we measured tau concentrations in CSF of CJD and control patients. CJD patients (n = 15) had lower cAMP (−70%) and cGMP (−55%) concentrations in CSF compared with controls (n = 11). There was no difference in PD, PD dementia (PDD) and ALS cases. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses confirmed cAMP and cGMP as valuable diagnostic markers for CJD indicated by the area under the curve (AUC) of 0.86 (cAMP) and 0.85 (cGMP). We calculated a sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 64% for cAMP and a sensitivity of 67% and specificity of 100% for cGMP. The combination of both nucleotides increased the sensitivity to 80% and specificity to 91% for the term cAMPxcGMP (AUC 0.92) and to 93% and 100% for the ratio tau/cAMP (AUC 0.99).
We conclude that the CSF determination of cAMP and cGMP may easily be included in the diagnosis of CJD and could be helpful in monitoring disease progression as well as in therapy control.
PMCID: PMC3292568  PMID: 22396786
23.  Clinical aspects of common genetic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease 
European Journal of Epidemiology  2012;27(2):147-149.
PMCID: PMC3306777  PMID: 22382354
24.  Severe Alterations of Cerebellar Cortical Development after Constitutive Activation of Wnt Signaling in Granule Neuron Precursors▿ 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2011;31(16):3326-3338.
The Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway plays crucial roles in early hindbrain formation, and its constitutive activity is associated with a subset of human medulloblastoma, a malignant childhood tumor of the posterior fossa. However, the precise function of Wnt/β-catenin signaling during cerebellar development is still elusive. We generated Math1-cre::ApcFl/Fl mice with a conditional knockout for the Adenomatosis polyposis coli (Apc) gene that displayed a constitutive activity of Wnt/β-catenin signaling in cerebellar granule neuron precursors. Such mice showed normal survival without any tumor formation but had a significantly smaller cerebellum with a complete disruption of its cortical histoarchitecture. The activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathway resulted in a severely inhibited proliferation and premature differentiation of cerebellar granule neuron precursors in vitro and in vivo. Mutant mice hardly developed an internal granular layer, and layering of Purkinje neurons was disorganized. Clinically, these mice presented with significantly impaired motor coordination and ataxia. In summary, we conclude that cerebellar granule neurons essentially require appropriate levels of Wnt signaling to balance their proliferation and differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3147790  PMID: 21690300
25.  Krüppel-Like Factor 8 (KLF8) Is Expressed in Gliomas of Different WHO Grades and Is Essential for Tumor Cell Proliferation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30429.
Krüppel-like factor 8 (KLF8) has only recently been identified to be involved in tumor cell proliferation and invasion of several different tumor entities like renal cell carcinoma, hepatocellular carcinoma and breast cancer. In the present study, we show for the first time the expression of KLF8 in gliomas of different WHO grades and its functional impact on glioma cell proliferation. In order to get information about KLF8-mRNA regulation qPCR was performed and did not reveal any significant difference in samples (n = 10 each) of non-neoplastic brain (NNB), low-grade gliomas (LGG, WHO°II) and glioblastomas (GBM, WHO°IV). Immunohistochemistry of tissue samples (n = 7 LGG, 11 AA and 12 GBM) did not show any significant difference in the fraction of KLF8-immunopositive cells of all analyzed cells in LGG (87%), AA (80%) or GBM (89%). Tissue samples from cerebral breast cancer metastasis, meningiomas but also non-neoplastic brain demonstrated comparable relative cell counts as well. Moreover, there was no correlation between KLF8 expression and the expression pattern of the assumed proliferation marker Ki67, which showed high variability between different tumor grade (9% (LGG), 6% (AA) and 15% (GBM) of Ki67-immunopositive cells). Densitometric analysis of Western blotting revealed that the relative amount of KLF8-protein did also not differ between the highly aggressive and proliferative GBM (1.05) compared to LGG (0.93; p<0.05, studens t-test). As demonstrated for some other non-glial cancer entities, KLF8-knockdown by shRNA in U87-MG cells confirmed its functional relevance, leading to an almost complete loss of tumor cell proliferation. Selective blocking of KLF8 might represent a novel anti-proliferative treatment strategy for malignant gliomas. Yet, its simultaneous expression in non-proliferating tissues could hamper this approach.
PMCID: PMC3261906  PMID: 22276196

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