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.
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.
Alzheimer disease; Corticobasal degeneration; Frontotemporal dementia; Tauopathy; TDP-43
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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Alzheimer’s disease; Two-photon in vivo imaging; Dendritic spines; Amyloid plaque; Kinetics; Structural plasticity
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.
FUS; TAF15; EWS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia
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.
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.
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.
α-Synuclein, Metal ion, Oligomer, Phosphorylation, Tau, Iron, Aluminium, GSK-3 beta, Alzheimer’s disease; Parkinson’s disease
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.
intramedullary glioma; pilomyxoid astrocytoma; metastasis; 1p19q.
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.
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.
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Schizophrenia; Superior temporal cortex; Cytoskeleton; Synaptic plasticity; Gene expression; Microarray
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).
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.
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.
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.
In order to define new prognostic subgroups in patients with glioblastoma a miRNA screen (> 1000 miRNAs) from paraffin tissues followed by a bio-mathematical analysis was performed.
35 glioblastoma patients treated between 7/2005 - 8/2008 at a single institution with surgery and postoperative radio(chemo)therapy were included in this retrospective analysis. For microarray analysis the febit biochip "Geniom® Biochip MPEA homo-sapiens" was used. Total RNA was isolated from FFPE tissue sections and 1100 different miRNAs were analyzed.
It was possible to define a distinct miRNA expression pattern allowing for a separation of distinct prognostic subgroups. The defined miRNA pattern was significantly associated with early death versus long-term survival (split at 450 days) (p = 0.01). The pattern and the prognostic power were both independent of the MGMT status.
At present, this is the first dataset defining a prognostic role of miRNA expression patterns in patients with glioblastoma. Having defined such a pattern, a prospective validation of this observation is required.
radiotherapy; glioblastoma; microRNA; methylation; prognosis
Six clinico-pathological phenotypes of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease have been characterized which correlate at the molecular level with the type (1 or 2) of the abnormal prion protein, PrPTSE, present in the brain and with the genotype of polymorphic (methionine or valine) codon 129 of the prion protein gene. However, to what extent these phenotypes with their corresponding molecular combinations (i.e. MM1, MM2, VV1 etc.) encipher distinct prion strains upon transmission remains uncertain. We studied the PrPTSE type and the prion protein gene in archival brain tissues from the National Institutes of Health series of transmitted Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and kuru cases, and characterized the molecular and pathological phenotype in the affected non-human primates, including squirrel, spider, capuchin and African green monkeys. We found that the transmission properties of prions from the common sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease MM1 phenotype are homogeneous and significantly differ from those of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease VV2 or MV2 prions. Animals injected with iatrogenic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease MM1 and genetic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease MM1 linked to the E200K mutation showed the same phenotypic features as those infected with sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease MM1 prions, whereas kuru most closely resembled the sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease VV2 or MV2 prion signature and neuropathology. The findings indicate that two distinct prion strains are linked to the three most common Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease clinico-pathological and molecular subtypes and kuru, and suggest that kuru may have originated from cannibalistic transmission of a sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease of the VV2 or MV2 subtype.
prion diseases; neuropathology; neurodegenerative disorders; phenotype; strain typing
In human glioma, quantitative real-time reverse-transcription PCR (qPCR) is a frequently used research tool. However, no systematic analysis of suitable reference genes for reliable gene expression analysis has been performed so far. In the current study, we tested 19 commonly used reference genes for their expression stability in human astrocytoma WHO Grade II, astrocytoma WHO Grade III, and glioblastoma (WHO Grade IV) both alone and compared with normal brain. First, equivalence tests for equal expression of candidate genes were applied, and those genes showing differential expression were ruled out from further analyses. Second, expression stability of the remaining candidate genes was determined by the NormFinder software. Generally, glioblastoma exhibited the highest expression levels and largest variability of candidate genes, whereas the opposite was true for normal brain. Even though Normfinder analyses revealed a large number of genes suitable for normalization in each of the tumor subgroups and across these groups, this number was drastically reduced after inclusion of normal brain into the analyses: Only GAPDH, IPO8, RPL13A, SDHA, and TBP were expected not to be differentially expressed; NormFinder analysis indicated favorable stability values for all of these genes, with TBP and IPO8 being the most stable ones. These 5 genes represent different physiological pathways and may be regarded as universal reference genes applicable for accurate normalization of gene expression in human astrocytomas of different grades (WHO Grades II–IV) alone and compared with normal brain, thereby enabling longitudinally designed studies (eg, in astrocytoma before and after malignant transformation).
astrocytoma; glioblastoma; reference genes; stereotactic biopsy; qPCR
We analyzed prospectively whether MGMT (O6-methylguanine-DNA
methyltransferase) mRNA expression gains prognostic/predictive impact
independent of MGMT promoter methylation in malignant
glioma patients undergoing radiotherapy with concomitant and adjuvant
temozolomide or temozolomide alone. As DNA-methyltransferases (DNMTs) are
the enzymes responsible for setting up and maintaining DNA methylation
patterns in eukaryotic cells, we analyzed further, whether
MGMT promoter methylation is associated with
upregulation of DNMT expression.
Adult patients with a histologically proven malignant astrocytoma
(glioblastoma: N = 53, anaplastic astrocytoma:
N = 10) were included. MGMT promoter
methylation was determined by methylation-specific PCR (MSP) and sequencing
analysis. Expression of MGMT and DNMTs mRNA were analysed by real-time qPCR.
Prognostic factors were obtained from proportional hazards models.
Correlation between MGMT mRNA expression and MGMT
methylation status was validated using data from the Cancer Genome Atlas
(TCGA) database (N = 229 glioblastomas). Low MGMT mRNA
expression was strongly predictive for prolonged time to progression,
treatment response, and length of survival in univariate and multivariate
models (p<0.0001); the degree of MGMT mRNA expression was highly
correlated with the MGMT promoter methylation status
(p<0.0001); however, discordant findings were seen in 12 glioblastoma
patients: Patients with methylated tumors with high MGMT mRNA expression
(N = 6) did significantly worse than those with low
transcriptional activity (p<0.01). Conversely, unmethylated tumors with
low MGMT mRNA expression (N = 6) did better than their
counterparts. A nearly identical frequency of concordant and discordant
findings was obtained by analyzing the TCGA database (p<0.0001).
Expression of DNMT1 and DNMT3b was strongly upregulated in tumor tissue, but
not correlated with MGMT promoter methylation and MGMT mRNA
MGMT mRNA expression plays a direct role for mediating tumor sensitivity to
alkylating agents. Discordant findings indicate methylation-independent
pathways of MGMT expression regulation. DNMT1 and DNMT3b are likely to be
involved in CGI methylation. However, their exact role yet has to be
Intracellular α-synuclein (α-syn) aggregates are the pathological hallmark in several neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy. Recent evidence suggests that small oligomeric aggregates rather than large amyloid fibrils represent the main toxic particle species in these diseases. We recently characterized iron-dependent toxic α-syn oligomer species by confocal single molecule fluorescence techniques and used this aggregation model to identify several N′-benzylidene-benzohydrazide (NBB) derivatives inhibiting oligomer formation in vitro. In our current work, we used the bioluminescent protein-fragment complementation assay (BPCA) to directly analyze the formation of toxic α-syn oligomers in cell culture and to investigate the effect of iron and potential drug-like compounds in living cells. Similar to our previous findings in vitro, we found a converse modulation of toxic α-syn oligomers by NBB derivates and ferric iron, which was characterized by an increase in aggregate formation by iron and an inhibitory effect of certain NBB compounds. Inhibition of α-syn oligomer formation by the NBB compound 293G02 was paralleled by a reduction in cytotoxicity indicating that toxic α-syn oligomers are present in the BPCA cell culture model and that pharmacological inhibition of oligomer formation can reduce toxicity. Thus, this approach provides a suitable model system for the development of new disease-modifying drugs targeting toxic oligomer species. Moreover, NBB compounds such as 293G02 may provide useful tool compounds to dissect the functional role of toxic oligomer species in cell culture models and in vivo.
Parkinson's disease; Alpha-synuclein; Drug development; Oligomer; Amyloid; Protein-fragment complementation assay
The kinetics of amyloid plaque formation and growth as one of the characteristic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are fundamental issues in AD research. Especially the question how fast amyloid plaques grow to their final size after they are born remains controversial. By long-term two-photon in vivo imaging we monitored individual methoxy-X04-stained amyloid plaques over 6 weeks in 12 and 18 months old Tg2576 mice. We found that in 12 months old mice, newly appearing amyloid plaques were initially small in volume and subsequently grew over time. The growth rate of plaques was inversely proportional to their volume; thus amyloid plaques that were already present at the first imaging time point grew over time but slower compared to new plaques. Additionally, we analyzed 18 months old Tg2576 mice in which we neither found newly appearing plaques nor a significant growth of pre-existing plaques over 6 weeks of imaging. In conclusion, newly appearing amyloid plaques are initially small in size but grow over time until plaque growth can not be detected anymore in aged mice. These results suggest that drugs that target plaque formation should be most effective early in the disease, when plaques are growing.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-010-0787-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Alzheimer’s disease; Amyloid plaque; Aβ, plaque growth; Tg2576; Two-photon; In vivo; Imaging
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is a fatal, transmissible, neurodegenerative disease of cattle. To date, the disease process is still poorly understood. In this study, brain tissue samples from animals naturally infected with BSE were analysed to identify differentially regulated genes using Affymetrix GeneChip Bovine Genome Arrays. A total of 230 genes were shown to be differentially regulated and many of these genes encode proteins involved in immune response, apoptosis, cell adhesion, stress response and transcription. Seventeen genes are associated with the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and 10 of these 17 genes are involved in stress related responses including ER chaperones, Grp94 and Grp170. Western blotting analysis showed that another ER chaperone, Grp78, was up-regulated in BSE. Up-regulation of these three chaperones strongly suggests the presence of ER stress and the activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) in BSE. The occurrence of ER stress was also supported by changes in gene expression for cytosolic proteins, such as the chaperone pair of Hsp70 and DnaJ. Many genes associated with the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway and the autophagy-lysosome system were differentially regulated, indicating that both pathways might be activated in response to ER stress. A model is presented to explain the mechanisms of prion neurotoxicity using these ER stress related responses. Clustering analysis showed that the differently regulated genes found from the naturally infected BSE cases could be used to predict the infectious status of the samples experimentally infected with BSE from the previous study and vice versa. Proof-of-principle gene expression biomarkers were found to represent BSE using 10 genes with 94% sensitivity and 87% specificity.