Induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neurons from patients promise to fill an important niche between studies in humans and model organisms in deciphering mechanisms and identifying therapeutic avenues for neurologic and psychiatric diseases. Recent work begins to tap this potential, and also highlights challenges that must be overcome for it to be fully realized.
RNA splicing plays a critical role in the programming of neuronal differentiation and, consequently, normal human neurodevelopment, and its disruption may underlie neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders. The RNA-binding protein, fox-1 homolog (RBFOX1; also termed A2BP1 or FOX1), is a neuron-specific splicing factor predicted to regulate neuronal splicing networks clinically implicated in neurodevelopmental disease, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but only a few targets have been experimentally identified. We used RNA sequencing to identify the RBFOX1 splicing network at a genome-wide level in primary human neural stem cells during differentiation. We observe that RBFOX1 regulates a wide range of alternative splicing events implicated in neuronal development and maturation, including transcription factors, other splicing factors and synaptic proteins. Downstream alterations in gene expression define an additional transcriptional network regulated by RBFOX1 involved in neurodevelopmental pathways remarkably parallel to those affected by splicing. Several of these differentially expressed genes are further implicated in ASD and related neurodevelopmental diseases. Weighted gene co-expression network analysis demonstrates a high degree of connectivity among these disease-related genes, highlighting RBFOX1 as a key factor coordinating the regulation of both neurodevelopmentally important alternative splicing events and clinically relevant neuronal transcriptional programs in the development of human neurons.
Presynaptic differentiation of axons plays a fundamental role in the establishment of neuronal connectivity. However, the mechanisms that govern presynaptic differentiation in the brain remain largely to be elucidated. We report that knockdown of the transcription factor MEF2A in primary neurons and importantly in the rat cerebellar cortex in vivo robustly increases the density of orphan presynaptic sites. Remarkably, the sumoylated transcriptional repressor form of MEF2A drives the suppression of orphan presynaptic sites. We also identify the gene encoding synaptotagmin 1 (Syt1), which acts locally at presynaptic sites, as a direct repressed target gene of sumoylated MEF2A in neurons, and demonstrate that repression of Syt1 mediates MEF2A-dependent elimination of orphan presynaptic sites. Finally, we uncover a role for the MEF2A-induced elimination of orphan presynaptic sites in the accumulation of presynaptic material at large maturing presynaptic boutons. Collectively, these findings define sumoylated MEF2A and Syt1 as components of a novel cell-intrinsic mechanism that orchestrates presynaptic differentiation in the mammalian brain. Our study has important implications for understanding neuronal connectivity in brain development and disease.
Understanding human-specific patterns of brain gene expression and regulation can provide key insights into human brain evolution and speciation. Here, we use next generation sequencing, and Illumina and Affymetrix microarray platforms, to compare the transcriptome of human, chimpanzee, and macaque telencephalon. Our analysis reveals a predominance of genes differentially expressed within human frontal lobe and a striking increase in transcriptional complexity specific to the human lineage in the frontal lobe. In contrast, caudate nucleus gene expression is highly conserved. We also identify gene co-expression signatures related to either neuronal processes or neuropsychiatric diseases, including a human-specific module with CLOCK as its hub gene and another module enriched for neuronal morphological processes and genes co-expressed with FOXP2, a gene important for language evolution. These data demonstrate that transcriptional networks have undergone evolutionary remodeling even within a given brain region, providing a new window through which to view the foundation of uniquely human cognitive capacities.
The immense molecular diversity of neurons challenges our ability to understand the genetic and cellular etiology of neuropsychiatric disorders. Leveraging knowledge from neurobiology may help parse the genetic complexity: identifying genes important for a circuit that mediates a particular symptom of a disease may help identify polymorphisms that contribute to risk for the disease as a whole. The serotonergic system has long been suspected in disorders that have symptoms of repetitive behaviors and resistance to change, including autism. We generated a bacTRAP mouse line to permit translational profiling of serotonergic neurons. From this, we identified several thousand serotonergic-cell expressed transcripts, of which 174 were highly enriched, including all known markers of these cells. Analysis of common variants near the corresponding genes in the AGRE collection implicated the RNA binding protein CELF6 in autism risk. Screening for rare variants in CELF6 identified an inherited premature stop codon in one of the probands. Subsequent disruption of Celf6 in mice resulted in animals exhibiting resistance to change and decreased ultrasonic vocalization as well as abnormal levels of serotonin in the brain. This work provides a reproducible and accurate method to profile serotonergic neurons under a variety of conditions and suggests a novel paradigm for gaining information on the etiology of psychiatric disorders.
Advances in genetics and genomics have improved our understanding of autism spectrum disorders. As many genes have been implicated, we look to points of convergence among these genes across biological systems to better understand and treat these disorders.
Subcellular localization of mRNA enables compartmentalized regulation within large cells. Neurons are the longest known cells, however so far evidence is lacking for an essential role of endogenous mRNA localization in axons. Localized upregulation of importin β1 in lesioned axons coordinates a retrograde injury signaling complex transported to the neuronal cell body. Here we show that a long 3′ untranslated region (3′UTR) directs axonal localization of importin β1. Conditional targeting of this 3′UTR region in mice causes subcellular loss of importin β1 mRNA and protein in axons, without affecting cell body levels or nuclear functions in sensory neurons. Strikingly, axonal knockout of importin β1 attenuates cell body transcriptional responses to nerve injury and delays functional recovery in vivo. Thus, localized translation of importin β1 mRNA enables separation of cytoplasmic and nuclear transport functions of importins, and is required for efficient retrograde signaling in injured axons.
Oncogenic transformation of postmitotic neurons triggers cell death, but the identity of genes critical for degeneration remain unclear. The antitumor antibiotic mithramycin prolongs survival of mouse models of Huntington’s disease in vivo and inhibits oxidative stress-induced death in cortical neurons in vitro. We had correlated protection by mithramycin with its ability to bind to GC-rich DNA and globally displace Sp1 family transcription factors. To understand how antitumor drugs prevent neurodegeneration, here we use structure-activity relationships of mithramycin analogs to discover that selective DNA-binding inhibition of the drug is necessary for its neuroprotective effect. We identify several genes (Myc, c-Src, Hif1α, and p21waf1/cip1) involved in neoplastic transformation, whose altered expression correlates with protective doses of mithramycin or its analogs. Most interestingly, inhibition of one these genes, Myc, is neuroprotective, whereas forced expression of Myc induces Rattus norvegicus neuronal cell death. These results support a model in which cancer cell transformation shares key genetic components with neurodegeneration.
We used affinity-purification mass spectrometry to identify 747 candidate proteins that are complexed with Huntingtin (Htt) in distinct brain regions and ages in Huntington’s disease (HD) and wildtype mouse brains. To gain a systems-level view of the Htt interactome, we applied Weighted Gene Correlation Network Analysis (WGCNA) to the entire proteomic dataset to unveil a verifiable rank of Htt-correlated proteins and a network of Htt-interacting protein modules, with each module highlighting distinct aspects of Htt biology. Importantly, the Htt-containing module is highly enriched with proteins involved in 14-3-3 signaling, microtubule-based transport, and proteostasis. Top-ranked proteins in this module were validated as novel Htt interactors and genetic modifiers in an HD Drosophila model. Together, our study provides a compendium of spatiotemporal Htt-interacting proteins in the mammalian brain, and presents a conceptually novel approach to analyze proteomic interactome datasets to build in vivo protein networks in complex tissues such as the brain.
Human neural progenitors from a variety of sources present new opportunities to model aspects of human neuropsychiatric disease in vitro. Such in vitro models provide the advantages of a human genetic background, combined with rapid and easy manipulation, making them highly useful adjuncts to animal models. Here, we examined whether a human neuronal culture system could be utilized to assess the transcriptional program involved in human neural differentiation and in modeling some of the molecular features of a neurodevelopmental disorder, such as autism. Primary normal human neuronal progenitors (NHNPs) were differentiated into a post-mitotic neuronal state through addition of specific growth factors and whole-genome gene expression was examined throughout a time course of neuronal differentiation. After four weeks of differentiation, a significant number of genes associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are either induced or repressed. This includes the ASD susceptibility gene neurexin 1, which showed a distinct pattern from neurexin 3 in vitro, and which we validated in vivo in fetal human brain. Using weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA), we visualized the network structure of transcriptional regulation, demonstrating via this unbiased analysis that a significant number of ASD candidate genes are coordinately regulated during the differentiation process. Since NHNPs are genetically tractable and manipulable, they can be used to study both the effects of mutations in multiple ASD candidate genes on neuronal differentiation and gene expression in combination with the effects of potential therapeutic molecules. These data also provide a step towards better understanding of the signaling pathways disrupted in ASD.
Model system; neuropsychiatric disease; pharmacogenomics; high-throughput drug screen; neurodevelopment
Characterized by a combination of abnormalities in language, social cognition, and mental flexibility, autism is not a single disorder, but a neurodevelopmental syndrome commonly referred to as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Several dozen ASD susceptibility genes have been identified in the past decade, collectively accounting for 10–20% of ASD cases. These findings, while demonstrating that ASD is etiologically heterogeneous, provide important clues about its pathophysiology. Diverse genetic and genomic approaches provide evidence converging on disruption of key biological pathways, many of which are also implicated in other allied neurodevelopmental disorders. Knowing the genes involved in ASD provides us with a crucial tool to probe both the specificity of ASD and the shared neurobiological and cognitive features across what are considered clinically distinct disorders, with the goal of linking gene to brain circuits to cognitive function.
To study the effect of familial Alzheimer disease (FAD) mutations and APOE genotype on plasma signaling protein levels.
Cross-sectional comparison of plasma levels of 77 proteins measured using multiplex immune assays.
A tertiary referral dementia research center.
Thirty-three persons from families harboring PSEN1 or APP mutations, aged 19 to 59 years.
Main Outcome Measures
Protein levels were compared between FAD mutation carriers (MCs) and non-carriers (NCs) and among APOE genotype groups, using multiple linear regression models.
Twenty-one participants were FAD MCs and 12 were NCs. Six had the APOE ε2/3, 6 had the ε3/4, and 21 had the ε3/3 genotype. Levels of 17 proteins differed among APOE genotype groups, and there were significant interactions between age and APOE genotype for 12 proteins. Plasma levels of apolipoprotein E and superoxide dismutase 1 were highest in the ε2 carriers, lowest in ε4 carriers, and intermediate in the ε3 carriers. Levels of multiple interleukins showed the opposite pattern and, among the ε4 carriers, demonstrated significant negative correlations with age. Although there were no significant differences between FAD MCs and NCs, there were interactions between mutation status and APOE genotype for 13 proteins.
We found different patterns of inflammatory markers in young and middle-aged persons among APOE genotype groups. The APOE ε4 carriers had the lowest levels of apolipoprotein E. Young ε4 carriers have increased inflammatory markers that diminish with age. We demonstrated altered inflammatory responses in young and middle adulthood in ε4 carriers that may relate to AD risk later in life.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a highly heritable, behaviorally defined, heterogeneous disorder of unknown pathogenesis. Several genetic risk genes have been identified, including the gene encoding the receptor tyrosine kinase MET, which regulates neuronal differentiation and growth. An ASD-associated polymorphism disrupts MET gene transcription, and there are reduced levels of MET protein expression in the mature temporal cortex of subjects with ASD. To address the possible neurodevelopmental contribution of MET to ASD pathogenesis, we examined the expression and transcriptional regulation of MET by a transcription factor, FOXP2, which is implicated in regulation of cognition and language, two functions altered in ASD. MET mRNA expression in the midgestation human fetal cerebral cortex is strikingly restricted, localized to portions of the temporal and occipital lobes. With in the cortical plate of the temporal lobe, the pattern of MET expression is highly complementary to the expression pattern of FOXP2, suggesting the latter may play a role in repression of gene expression. Consistent with this, MET and FOXP2 also are reciprocally expressed by differentiating normal human neuronal progenitor cells (NHNPs) in vitro, leading us to assess whether FOXP2 transcriptionally regulates MET. Indeed, FOXP2 binds directly to the 5′ regulatory region of MET, and overexpression of FOXP2 results in transcriptional repression of MET. The expression of MET in restricted human neocortical regions, and its regulation in part by FOXP2, is consistent with genetic evidence for MET contributing to ASD risk.
Transcriptional studies suggest Alzheimer's disease (AD) involves dysfunction of many cellular pathways, including synaptic transmission, cytoskeletal dynamics, energetics, and apoptosis. Despite known progression of AD pathologies, it is unclear how such striking regional vulnerability occurs, or which genes play causative roles in disease progression.
To address these issues, we performed a large-scale transcriptional analysis in the CA1 and relatively less vulnerable CA3 brain regions of individuals with advanced AD and nondemented controls. In our study, we assessed differential gene expression across region and disease status, compared our results to previous studies of similar design, and performed an unbiased co-expression analysis using weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA). Several disease genes were identified and validated using qRT-PCR.
We find disease signatures consistent with several previous microarray studies, then extend these results to show a relationship between disease status and brain region. Specifically, genes showing decreased expression with AD progression tend to show enrichment in CA3 (and vice versa), suggesting transcription levels may reflect a region's vulnerability to disease. Additionally, we find several candidate vulnerability (ABCA1, MT1H, PDK4, RHOBTB3) and protection (FAM13A1, LINGO2, UNC13C) genes based on expression patterns. Finally, we use a systems-biology approach based on WGCNA to uncover disease-relevant expression patterns for major cell types, including pathways consistent with a key role for early microglial activation in AD.
These results paint a picture of AD as a multifaceted disease involving slight transcriptional changes in many genes between regions, coupled with a systemic immune response, gliosis, and neurodegeneration. Despite this complexity, we find that a consistent picture of gene expression in AD is emerging.
The identification of autism susceptibility genes has been hampered by phenotypic heterogeneity of autism, among other factors. However, the use of endophenotypes has shown preliminary success in reducing heterogeneity and identifying potential autism-related susceptibility regions. To further explore the utility of using language related endophenotypes, we performed linkage analysis on multiplex autism families stratified according to delayed expressive speech and also assessed the extent to which parental phenotype information would aid in identifying regions of linkage. A whole genome scan using a multipoint nonparametric linkage approach was performed in 133 families, stratifying the sample by phrase speech delay and word delay. None of the regions reached suggested genome-wide or replication significance thresholds. However, several loci on chromosomes 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, and 19 yielded nominally higher linkage signals in the delayed groups. The results did not support reported linkage findings for loci on chromosomes 7 or 13 that were a result of stratification based on the language delay endophenotype. In addition, inclusion of information on parental history of language delay did not appreciably affect the linkage results. The nominal increase in NPL scores across several regions using language delay endophenotypes for stratification suggests that this strategy may be useful in attenuating heterogeneity. However, the inconsistencies in regions identified across studies highlight the importance of increasing sample sizes to provide adequate power to test replications in independent samples.
Autism; linkage; endophenotypes; language; AGRE
To identify cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) protein changes in persons who will develop familial Alzheimer disease (FAD) due to PSEN1 and APP mutations, using unbiased proteomics.
We compared proteomic profiles of CSF from individuals with FAD who were mutation carriers (MCs) and related noncarriers (NCs). Abundant proteins were depleted and samples were analyzed using liquid chromatography– electrospray ionization–mass spectrometry on a high-resolution time-of-flight instrument. Tryptic peptides were identified by tandem mass spectrometry. Proteins differing in concentration between the MCs and NCs were identified.
A tertiary dementia referral center and a proteomic biomarker discovery laboratory.
Fourteen FAD MCs (mean age, 34.2 years; 10 are asymptomatic, 12 have presenilin-1 [PSEN1] gene mutations, and 2 have amyloid precursor protein [APP] gene mutations) and 5 related NCs (mean age, 37.6 years).
Fifty-six proteins were identified, represented by multiple tryptic peptides showing significant differences between MCs and NCs (46 upregulated and 10 downregulated); 40 of these proteins differed when the analysis was restricted to asymptomatic individuals. Fourteen proteins have been reported in prior proteomic studies in late-onset AD, including amyloid precursor protein, transferrin, α1β-glycoprotein, complement components, afamin precursor, spondin 1, plasminogen, hemopexin, and neuronal pentraxin receptor. Many other proteins were unique to our study, including calsyntenin 3, AMPA (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) 4 glutamate receptor, CD99 antigen, di-N-acetyl-chitobiase, and secreted phosphoprotein 1.
We found much overlap in CSF protein changes between individuals with presymptomatic and symptomatic FAD and those with late-onset AD. Our results are consistent with inflammation and synaptic loss early in FAD and suggest new presymptomatic biomarkers of potential usefulness in drug development.
Progranulin (GRN) mutations cause frontotemporal dementia (FTD), but GRN’s function in the CNS remains largely unknown. To identify the pathways downstream of GRN, we used weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) to develop a systems-level view of transcriptional alterations in a human neural progenitor model of GRN-deficiency. This highlighted key pathways such as apoptosis and ubiquitination in GRN deficient human neurons, while revealing an unexpected major role for the Wnt signaling pathway, which was confirmed by analysis of gene expression data from postmortem FTD brain. Furthermore, we observed that the Wnt receptor Fzd2 was one of only a few genes up-regulated at 6 weeks in a GRN knockout mouse, and that FZD2 reduction caused increased apoptosis, while its upregulation promoted neuronal survival in vitro. Together, these in vitro and in vivo data point to an adaptive role for altered Wnt signaling in GRN deficiency-mediated FTD, representing a potential therapeutic target.
Progranulin; Frontotemporal Dementia; Wnt; Fzd2; WGCNA
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a phenotypically and genetically heterogeneous condition characterized by the presence of repetitive/restrictive behaviors and variable deficits in language and social behavior. Many genes predisposing an individual to ASD have been identified, and understanding the causal disease mechanism(s) is critical to be able to develop treatments. Neurobiological, genetic, and imaging data provide strong evidence for the CNTNAP2 gene as a risk factor for ASD and related neurodevelopmental disorders. This review discusses the clinical genetics and current understanding of the biology of CNTNAP2 as related to ASD and illustrates how the integration of multiple research approaches, from human studies to animal models, converge to inform functional biology focused on novel treatment development.
Many network analyses of fMRI data begin by defining a set of regions, extracting the mean signal from each region and then analyzing the correlations between regions. One essential question that has not been addressed in the literature is how to best define the network neighborhoods over which a signal is combined for network analyses. Here we present a novel unsupervised method for the identification of tightly interconnected voxels, or modules, from fMRI data. This approach, weighted voxel coactivation network analysis (WVCNA) is based on a method that was originally developed to find modules of genes in gene networks. This approach differs from many of the standard network approaches in fMRI in that connections between voxels are described by a continuous measure, whereas typically voxels are considered to be either connected or not connected depending on whether the correlation between the two voxels survives a hard threshold value. Additionally, instead of simply using pairwise correlations to describe the connection between two voxels, WVCNA relies on a measure of topological overlap, which not only compares how correlated two voxels are, but also the degree to which the pair of voxels is highly correlated with the same other voxels. We demonstrate the use of WVCNA to parcellate the brain into a set of modules that are reliably detected across data within the same subject and across subjects. In addition we compare WVCNA to ICA and show that the WVCNA modules have some of the same structure as the ICA components, but tend to be more spatially focused. We also demonstrate the use of some of the WVCNA network metrics for assessing a voxel’s membership to a module and also how that voxel relates to other modules. Last, we illustrate how WVCNA modules can be used in a network analysis to find connections between regions of the brain and show that it produces reasonable results.
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Functional Connectivity; Graph Theory; Small World Networks
Inflammation features in CNS disorders such as stroke, trauma, neurodegeneration, infection, and autoimmunity in which astrocytes play critical roles. To elucidate how inflammatory mediators alter astrocyte functions, we examined effects of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and interferon-gamma (IFNγ), alone and in combination, on purified, mouse primary cortical astrocyte cultures. We used microarrays to conduct whole-genome expression profiling, and measured calcium signaling, which is implicated in mediating dynamic astrocyte functions. Combinatorial exposure to TGF-β1, LPS, and IFNγ significantly modulated astrocyte expression of >6800 gene probes, including >380 synergistic changes not predicted by summing individual treatment effects. Bioinformatic analyses revealed significantly and markedly upregulated molecular networks and pathways associated in particular with immune signaling and regulation of cell injury, death, growth, and proliferation. Highly regulated genes included chemokines, growth factors, enzymes, channels, transporters, and intercellular and intracellular signal transducers. Notably, numerous genes for G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and G-protein effectors involved in calcium signaling were significantly regulated, mostly down (for example, Cxcr4, Adra2a, Ednra, P2y1, Gnao1, Gng7), but some up (for example, P2y14, P2y6, Ccrl2, Gnb4). We tested selected cases and found that changes in GPCR gene expression were accompanied by significant, parallel changes in astrocyte calcium signaling evoked by corresponding GPCR-specific ligands. These findings identify pronounced changes in the astrocyte transcriptome induced by TGF-β1, LPS, and IFNγ, and show that these inflammatory stimuli upregulate astrocyte molecular networks associated with immune- and injury-related functions and significantly alter astrocyte calcium signaling stimulated by multiple GPCRs.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a common, highly heritable neuro-developmental condition characterized by marked genetic heterogeneity1–3. Thus, a fundamental question is whether autism represents an etiologically heterogeneous disorder in which the myriad genetic or environmental risk factors perturb common underlying molecular pathways in the brain4. Here, we demonstrate consistent differences in transcriptome organization between autistic and normal brain by gene co-expression network analysis. Remarkably, regional patterns of gene expression that typically distinguish frontal and temporal cortex are significantly attenuated in the ASD brain, suggesting abnormalities in cortical patterning. We further identify discrete modules of co-expressed genes associated with autism: a neuronal module enriched for known autism susceptibility genes, including the neuronal specific splicing factor A2BP1/FOX1, and a module enriched for immune genes and glial markers. Using high-throughput RNA-sequencing we demonstrate dysregulated splicing of A2BP1-dependent alternative exons in ASD brain. Moreover, using a published autism GWAS dataset, we show that the neuronal module is enriched for genetically associated variants, providing independent support for the causal involvement of these genes in autism. In contrast, the immune-glial module showed no enrichment for autism GWAS signals, indicating a non-genetic etiology for this process. Collectively, our results provide strong evidence for convergent molecular abnormalities in ASD, and implicate transcriptional and splicing dysregulation as underlying mechanisms of neuronal dysfunction in this disorder.
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
Although many Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients have a family history of the disease, it is rarely inherited in a predictable way. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies of non-demented adults carrying familial AD mutations provide an opportunity to prospectively identify brain differences associated with early AD-related changes. We compared fMRI activity of 18 non-demented autosomal dominant AD mutation carriers with fMRI activity in 8 of their non-carrier relatives as they performed a novelty encoding task in which they viewed novel and repeated images. Because age of disease onset is relatively consistent within families, we also correlated fMRI activity with subjects’ distance from the median age of diagnosis for their family. Mutation carriers did not show significantly different voxelwise fMRI activity from non-carriers as a group. However, as they approached their family age of disease diagnosis, only mutation carriers showed increased fMRI activity in the fusiform and middle temporal gyri. This suggests that during novelty encoding, increased fMRI activity in the temporal lobe may relate to incipient AD processes.
PSEN1; APP; fMRI; familial Alzheimer’s disease
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