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1.  Inhibition of Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 2 Alpha Phosphatase Reduces Tissue Damage and Improves Learning and Memory after Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2015;32(20):1608-1620.
Patients who survive traumatic brain injury (TBI) are often faced with persistent memory deficits. The hippocampus, a structure critical for learning and memory, is vulnerable to TBI and its dysfunction has been linked to memory impairments. Protein kinase RNA-like ER kinase regulates protein synthesis (by phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 alpha [eIF2α]) in response to endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stressors, such as increases in calcium levels, oxidative damage, and energy/glucose depletion, all of which have been implicated in TBI pathophysiology. Exposure of cells to guanabenz has been shown to increase eIF2α phosphorylation and reduce ER stress. Using a rodent model of TBI, we present experimental results that indicate that postinjury administration of 5.0 mg/kg of guanabenz reduced cortical contusion volume and decreased hippocampal cell damage. Moreover, guanabenz treatment attenuated TBI-associated motor, vestibulomotor, recognition memory, and spatial learning and memory dysfunction. Interestingly, when the initiation of treatment was delayed by 24 h, or the dose reduced to 0.5 mg/kg, some of these beneficial effects were still observed. Taken together, these findings further support the involvement of ER stress signaling in TBI pathophysiology and indicate that guanabenz may have translational utility.
PMCID: PMC4593880  PMID: 25843479
CHOP; ER stress; hippocampus; phosphatase; TBI
2.  Mislocalisation of BEST1 in iPSC-derived retinal pigment epithelial cells from a family with autosomal dominant vitreoretinochoroidopathy (ADVIRC) 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:33792.
Autosomal dominant vitreoretinochoroidopathy (ADVIRC) is a rare, early-onset retinal dystrophy characterised by distinct bands of circumferential pigmentary degeneration in the peripheral retina and developmental eye defects. ADVIRC is caused by mutations in the Bestrophin1 (BEST1) gene, which encodes a transmembrane protein thought to function as an ion channel in the basolateral membrane of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. Previous studies suggest that the distinct ADVIRC phenotype results from alternative splicing of BEST1 pre-mRNA. Here, we have used induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology to investigate the effects of an ADVIRC associated BEST1 mutation (c.704T > C, p.V235A) in patient-derived iPSC-RPE. We found no evidence of alternate splicing of the BEST1 transcript in ADVIRC iPSC-RPE, however in patient-derived iPSC-RPE, BEST1 was expressed at the basolateral membrane and the apical membrane. During human eye development we show that BEST1 is expressed more abundantly in peripheral RPE compared to central RPE and is also expressed in cells of the developing retina. These results suggest that higher levels of mislocalised BEST1 expression in the periphery, from an early developmental stage, could provide a mechanism that leads to the distinct clinical phenotype observed in ADVIRC patients.
PMCID: PMC5031956  PMID: 27653836
3.  Activation of Alpha 7 Cholinergic Nicotinic Receptors Reduce Blood–Brain Barrier Permeability following Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2016;36(9):2809-2818.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major human health concern that has the greatest impact on young men and women. The breakdown of the blood–brain barrier (BBB) is an important pathological consequence of TBI that initiates secondary processes, including infiltration of inflammatory cells, which can exacerbate brain inflammation and contribute to poor outcome. While the role of inflammation within the injured brain has been examined in some detail, the contribution of peripheral/systemic inflammation to TBI pathophysiology is largely unknown. Recent studies have implicated vagus nerve regulation of splenic cholinergic nicotinic acetylcholine receptor α7 (nAChRa7) signaling in the regulation of systemic inflammation. However, it is not known whether this mechanism plays a role in TBI-triggered inflammation and BBB breakdown. Following TBI, we observed that plasma TNF-α and IL-1β levels, as well as BBB permeability, were significantly increased in nAChRa7 null mice (Chrna7−/−) relative to wild-type mice. The administration of exogenous IL-1β and TNF-α to brain-injured animals worsened Evans Blue dye extravasation, suggesting that systemic inflammation contributes to TBI-triggered BBB permeability. Systemic administration of the nAChRa7 agonist PNU-282987 or the positive allosteric modulator PNU-120596 significantly attenuated TBI-triggered BBB compromise. Supporting a role for splenic nAChRa7 receptors, we demonstrate that splenic injection of the nicotinic receptor blocker α-bungarotoxin increased BBB permeability in brain-injured rats, while PNU-282987 injection decreased such permeability. These effects were not seen when α-bungarotoxin or PNU-282987 were administered to splenectomized, brain-injured rats. Together, these findings support the short-term use of nAChRa7-activating agents as a strategy to reduce TBI-triggered BBB permeability.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Breakdown of the blood–brain barrier (BBB) in response to traumatic brain injury (TBI) allows for the accumulation of circulating fluids and proinflammatory cells in the injured brain. These processes can exacerbate TBI pathology and outcome. While the role of inflammation in the injured tissue has been examined in some detail, the contribution of peripheral inflammation in BBB breakdown and ensuing pathology has not been well defined. We present experimental evidence to indicate that the stimulation of nicotinic acetylcholine α7 receptors (nAChRa7s) can reduce peripheral inflammation and BBB breakdown after TBI. These results suggest that activators of nAChRa7 may have therapeutic utility for the treatment of TBI.
PMCID: PMC4879217  PMID: 26937017
blood–brain barrier breakdown; controlled cortical impact brain injury; inflammatory cytokines; secondary TBI pathology
4.  Unilateral BEST1-Associated Retinopathy 
To describe a series of patients with molecularly confirmed mutation in BEST1 causing Best disease but with unilateral clinical manifestation.
Retrospective observational case series.
Setting: Moorfields Eye Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital, London (United Kingdom). Patients: Five patients (10 eyes) with uniocular manifestation of BEST1 mutation causing Best disease were ascertained retrospectively from the clinical and genetic databases. Main Outcome Measures: Patients had full ophthalmologic examination, color fundus photography, fundus autofluorescence imaging, spectral-domain optical coherence tomography, and detailed electrophysiological assessment. Genetic testing was performed.
All cases had a clinical appearance typical of and consistent with Best disease at various stages, except that the presentation was unilateral. The reduced electrooculogram light rise was bilateral and in the context of normal electroretinograms therefore indicates generalized dysfunction at the level of the retinal pigment epithelium.
Mutation in BEST1 has variable penetrance and expressivity, and can be uniocular. The clinical and electrophysiological features described assist targeted mutational screening and alert to the potential diagnosis even when there is an atypical unilateral presentation.
PMCID: PMC5016077  PMID: 27287821
5.  A Self‐Assembled Respiratory Chain that Catalyzes NADH Oxidation by Ubiquinone‐10 Cycling between Complex I and the Alternative Oxidase 
Complex I is a crucial respiratory enzyme that conserves the energy from NADH oxidation by ubiquinone‐10 (Q10) in proton transport across a membrane. Studies of its energy transduction mechanism are hindered by the extreme hydrophobicity of Q10, and they have so far relied on native membranes with many components or on hydrophilic Q10 analogues that partition into membranes and undergo side reactions. Herein, we present a self‐assembled system without these limitations: proteoliposomes containing mammalian complex I, Q10, and a quinol oxidase (the alternative oxidase, AOX) to recycle Q10H2 to Q10. AOX is present in excess, so complex I is completely rate determining and the Q10 pool is kept oxidized under steady‐state catalysis. The system was used to measure a fully‐defined K M value for Q10. The strategy is suitable for any enzyme with a hydrophobic quinone/quinol substrate, and could be used to characterize hydrophobic inhibitors with potential applications as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, or fungicides.
PMCID: PMC4954055  PMID: 26592861
electron transport chain; NADH; oxidoreductases; proteoliposomes; quinones
6.  Analysis of copy number variation at DMBT1 and age-related macular degeneration 
BMC Medical Genetics  2016;17:44.
DMBT1 is a gene that shows extensive copy number variation (CNV) that alters the number of bacteria-binding domains in the protein and has been shown to activate the complement pathway. It lies next to the ARMS2/HTRA1 genes in a region of chromosome 10q26, where single nucleotide variants have been strongly associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the commonest cause of blindness in Western populations. Complement activation is thought to be a key factor in the pathogenesis of this condition. We sought to investigate whether DMBT1 CNV plays any role in the susceptibility to AMD.
We analysed long-range linkage disequilibrium of DMBT1 CNV1 and CNV2 with flanking single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using our previously published CNV and HapMap Phase 3 SNP data in the CEPH Europeans from Utah (CEU). We then typed a large cohort of 860 AMD patients and 419 examined age-matched controls for copy number at DMBT1 CNV1 and CNV2 and combined these data with copy numbers from a further 480 unexamined controls.
We found weak linkage disequilibrium between DMBT1 CNV1 and CNV2 with the SNPs rs1474526 and rs714816 in the HTRA1/ARMS2 region. By directly analysing copy number variation, we found no evidence of association of CNV1 or CNV2 with AMD.
We have shown that copy number variation at DMBT1 does not affect risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and can therefore be ruled out from future studies investigating the association of structural variation at 10q26 with AMD.
PMCID: PMC4946147  PMID: 27416785
7.  A large genome-wide association study of age-related macular degeneration highlights contributions of rare and common variants 
Fritsche, Lars G. | Igl, Wilmar | Cooke Bailey, Jessica N. | Grassmann, Felix | Sengupta, Sebanti | Bragg-Gresham, Jennifer L. | Burdon, Kathryn P. | Hebbring, Scott J. | Wen, Cindy | Gorski, Mathias | Kim, Ivana K. | Cho, David | Zack, Donald | Souied, Eric | Scholl, Hendrik P. N. | Bala, Elisa | Lee, Kristine E. | Hunter, David J. | Sardell, Rebecca J. | Mitchell, Paul | Merriam, Joanna E. | Cipriani, Valentina | Hoffman, Joshua D. | Schick, Tina | Lechanteur, Yara T. E. | Guymer, Robyn H. | Johnson, Matthew P. | Jiang, Yingda | Stanton, Chloe M. | Buitendijk, Gabriëlle H. S. | Zhan, Xiaowei | Kwong, Alan M. | Boleda, Alexis | Brooks, Matthew | Gieser, Linn | Ratnapriya, Rinki | Branham, Kari E. | Foerster, Johanna R. | Heckenlively, John R. | Othman, Mohammad I. | Vote, Brendan J. | Liang, Helena Hai | Souzeau, Emmanuelle | McAllister, Ian L. | Isaacs, Timothy | Hall, Janette | Lake, Stewart | Mackey, David A. | Constable, Ian J. | Craig, Jamie E. | Kitchner, Terrie E. | Yang, Zhenglin | Su, Zhiguang | Luo, Hongrong | Chen, Daniel | Ouyang, Hong | Flagg, Ken | Lin, Danni | Mao, Guanping | Ferreyra, Henry | Stark, Klaus | von Strachwitz, Claudia N. | Wolf, Armin | Brandl, Caroline | Rudolph, Guenther | Olden, Matthias | Morrison, Margaux A. | Morgan, Denise J. | Schu, Matthew | Ahn, Jeeyun | Silvestri, Giuliana | Tsironi, Evangelia E. | Park, Kyu Hyung | Farrer, Lindsay A. | Orlin, Anton | Brucker, Alexander | Li, Mingyao | Curcio, Christine | Mohand-Saïd, Saddek | Sahel, José-Alain | Audo, Isabelle | Benchaboune, Mustapha | Cree, Angela J. | Rennie, Christina A. | Goverdhan, Srinivas V. | Grunin, Michelle | Hagbi-Levi, Shira | Campochiaro, Peter | Katsanis, Nicholas | Holz, Frank G. | Blond, Frédéric | Blanché, Hélène | Deleuze, Jean-François | Igo, Robert P. | Truitt, Barbara | Peachey, Neal S. | Meuer, Stacy M. | Myers, Chelsea E. | Moore, Emily L. | Klein, Ronald | Hauser, Michael A. | Postel, Eric A. | Courtenay, Monique D. | Schwartz, Stephen G. | Kovach, Jaclyn L. | Scott, William K. | Liew, Gerald | Tƒan, Ava G. | Gopinath, Bamini | Merriam, John C. | Smith, R. Theodore | Khan, Jane C. | Shahid, Humma | Moore, Anthony T. | McGrath, J. Allie | Laux, Reneé | Brantley, Milam A. | Agarwal, Anita | Ersoy, Lebriz | Caramoy, Albert | Langmann, Thomas | Saksens, Nicole T. M. | de Jong, Eiko K. | Hoyng, Carel B. | Cain, Melinda S. | Richardson, Andrea J. | Martin, Tammy M. | Blangero, John | Weeks, Daniel E. | Dhillon, Bal | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Doheny, Kimberly F. | Romm, Jane | Klaver, Caroline C. W. | Hayward, Caroline | Gorin, Michael B. | Klein, Michael L. | Baird, Paul N. | den Hollander, Anneke I. | Fauser, Sascha | Yates, John R. W. | Allikmets, Rando | Wang, Jie Jin | Schaumberg, Debra A. | Klein, Barbara E. K. | Hagstrom, Stephanie A. | Chowers, Itay | Lotery, Andrew J. | Léveillard, Thierry | Zhang, Kang | Brilliant, Murray H. | Hewitt, Alex W. | Swaroop, Anand | Chew, Emily Y. | Pericak-Vance, Margaret A. | DeAngelis, Margaret | Stambolian, Dwight | Haines, Jonathan L. | Iyengar, Sudha K. | Weber, Bernhard H. F. | Abecasis, Gonçalo R. | Heid, Iris M.
Nature genetics  2015;48(2):134-143.
Advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly with limited therapeutic options. Here, we report on a study of >12 million variants including 163,714 directly genotyped, most rare, protein-altering variant. Analyzing 16,144 patients and 17,832 controls, we identify 52 independently associated common and rare variants (P < 5×10–8) distributed across 34 loci. While wet and dry AMD subtypes exhibit predominantly shared genetics, we identify the first signal specific to wet AMD, near MMP9 (difference-P = 4.1×10–10). Very rare coding variants (frequency < 0.1%) in CFH, CFI, and TIMP3 suggest causal roles for these genes, as does a splice variant in SLC16A8. Our results support the hypothesis that rare coding variants can pinpoint causal genes within known genetic loci and illustrate that applying the approach systematically to detect new loci requires extremely large sample sizes.
PMCID: PMC4745342  PMID: 26691988
8.  Identification and Correction of Mechanisms Underlying Inherited Blindness in Human iPSC-Derived Optic Cups 
Cell Stem Cell  2016;18(6):769-781.
Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) is an inherited retinal dystrophy that causes childhood blindness. Photoreceptors are especially sensitive to an intronic mutation in the cilia-related gene CEP290, which causes missplicing and premature termination, but the basis of this sensitivity is unclear. Here, we generated differentiated photoreceptors in three-dimensional optic cups and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) from iPSCs with this common CEP290 mutation to investigate disease mechanisms and evaluate candidate therapies. iPSCs differentiated normally into RPE and optic cups, despite abnormal CEP290 splicing and cilia defects. The highest levels of aberrant splicing and cilia defects were observed in optic cups, explaining the retinal-specific manifestation of this CEP290 mutation. Treating optic cups with an antisense morpholino effectively blocked aberrant splicing and restored expression of full-length CEP290, restoring normal cilia-based protein trafficking. These results provide a mechanistic understanding of the retina-specific phenotypes in CEP290 LCA patients and potential strategies for therapeutic intervention.
Graphical Abstract
•Generation of 3D optic cups with opsin-expressing photoreceptors and outer segments•A CEP290-LCA intronic mutation creates a cryptic exon that impairs ciliogenesis•Aberrant splicing is increased in photoreceptors compared to other cell types•Antisense oligonucleotide can block the cryptic exon and restore CEP290 function
Parfitt et al. derived human 3D optic cup organoids to model LCA, a retinal dystrophy associated with aberrant CEP290 splicing leading to cilia defects. Retinal-specific defects result from higher aberrant CEP290 splicing in photoreceptors versus other cells, and treating cups with an antisense oligonucleotide restored CEP290 protein, function, and ciliation.
PMCID: PMC4899423  PMID: 27151457
9.  Investigation of SLA4A3 as a candidate gene for human retinal disease 
SLC4A3 has been shown to cause retinal degeneration in a genetically engineered knockout mouse, and in a naturally occurring form of canine progressive retinal atrophy considered to be the equivalent of retinitis pigmentosa in humans (RP). This study was undertaken to investigate if SLC4A3 coding variants were implicated in human retinal degeneration. SLC4A3 exons were amplified and sequenced in 200 patients with autosomal recessive retinal degeneration who had no known molecular diagnosis for their condition, which included 197 unrelated individuals with suspected RP and three individuals with other forms of retinal disease. Three rare variants were identified that were predicted to be potentially pathogenic, however each variant was heterozygous in a single patient and therefore not considered disease-causing in isolation. Of these three variants, SNP-3 was the rarest, with an allele frequency of 7.06x10−5 (>46,000 exomes from the ExAC database). In conclusion, no compound heterozygous or homozygous potentially pathogenic variants were identified that would account for recessive RP or retinal degeneration in this cohort, however the possibility remains that the rare variants identified could be acting with as yet undiscovered mutations in introns or regulatory regions. SLC4A3 remains an excellent candidate gene for human retinal degeneration, and with the advent of whole exome and whole genome sequencing of cohorts of molecularly unsolved patients with syndromic and non-syndromic forms of retinal degeneration, SLC4A3 may yet be implicated in human disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12952-016-0054-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4876561  PMID: 27211793
SLC4A3; Retinitis pigmentosa; Retinal degeneration
10.  Selective Automated Perimetry Under Photopic, Mesopic, and Scotopic Conditions: Detection Mechanisms and Testing Strategies 
Automated scotopic, mesopic, and photopic perimetry are likely to be important paradigms in the assessment of emerging treatments of retinal diseases, yet our knowledge of the photoreceptor mechanisms detecting targets under these conditions remains largely dependent on simian data. We therefore aimed to establish the photoreceptor/postreceptoral mechanisms detecting perimetric targets in humans under photopic, mesopic, and scotopic conditions and to make recommendations for suitable clinical testing strategies for selective perimetry.
Perimetric sensitivities within 30° of fixation were determined for eight wavelengths (410, 440, 480, 520, 560, 600, 640, and 680 nm) under scotopic, mesopic (1.3 cd.m−2) and photopic (10 cd.m−2) conditions. Data were fitted with vector combinations of rod, S-cone, nonopponent M+L-cone mechanism, and opponent M- versus L-cone mechanism templates.
Scotopicperimetric sensitivity was determined by rods peripherally and by a combination of rods and cones at, and immediately around, fixation. Mesopic perimetric sensitivity was mediated by M+L-cones and S-cones centrally and by M+L-cones and rods more peripherally. Photopic perimetric sensitivity was determined by an opponent M- versus L-cone, a nonopponent M+L-cone, and an S-cone mechanism centrally and by a combination of an S-cone and an M+L-cone mechanism peripherally.
Under scotopic conditions, a 480-nm stimulus provides adequate isolation (≥28 dB) of the rod mechanism. Several mechanisms contribute to mesopic sensitivity: this redundancy in detection may cause both insensitivity to broadband white targets and ambiguity in determining which mechanism is being probed with short-wavelength stimuli. M- and L-cone–derived mechanisms are well isolated at 10 cd.m−2: these may be selectively probed by a stimulus at 640 nm (≥ 20 dB isolation).
Translation Relevance
In human observers, multiple mechanisms contribute to the detection of Goldmann size III and size V perimetric targets under scotopic, mesopic, and photopic conditions. The relative contribution of these mechanisms appears to differ from those found previously for macaques. Our results furthermore suggest that caution must be exercised when using microperimetric techniques, which are typically conducted under mesopic conditions and which are likely to be important in the assessment of emerging treatments for retinal disease. This is because mesopic background conditions maximize the redundancy of target detection. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that spectral manipulation of the stimulus alone cannot be used to reliably separate rod from cone responses under these conditions.
PMCID: PMC4884057  PMID: 27247858
rod perimetry; cone perimetry; selective perimetry; mesopic perimetry; photopic perimetry
11.  Genetic Analysis of ‘PAX6-Negative’ Individuals with Aniridia or Gillespie Syndrome 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(4):e0153757.
We report molecular genetic analysis of 42 affected individuals referred with a diagnosis of aniridia who previously screened as negative for intragenic PAX6 mutations. Of these 42, the diagnoses were 31 individuals with aniridia and 11 individuals referred with a diagnosis of Gillespie syndrome (iris hypoplasia, ataxia and mild to moderate developmental delay). Array-based comparative genomic hybridization identified six whole gene deletions: four encompassing PAX6 and two encompassing FOXC1. Six deletions with plausible cis-regulatory effects were identified: five that were 3ʹ (telomeric) to PAX6 and one within a gene desert 5ʹ (telomeric) to PITX2. Sequence analysis of the FOXC1 and PITX2 coding regions identified two plausibly pathogenic de novo FOXC1 missense mutations (p.Pro79Thr and p.Leu101Pro). No intragenic mutations were detected in PITX2. FISH mapping in an individual with Gillespie-like syndrome with an apparently balanced X;11 reciprocal translocation revealed disruption of a gene at each breakpoint: ARHGAP6 on the X chromosome and PHF21A on chromosome 11. In the other individuals with Gillespie syndrome no mutations were identified in either of these genes, or in HCCS which lies close to the Xp breakpoint. Disruption of PHF21A has previously been implicated in the causation of intellectual disability (but not aniridia). Plausibly causative mutations were identified in 15 out of 42 individuals (12/32 aniridia; 3/11 Gillespie syndrome). Fourteen of these mutations presented in the known aniridia genes; PAX6, FOXC1 and PITX2. The large number of individuals in the cohort with no mutation identified suggests greater locus heterogeneity may exist in both isolated and syndromic aniridia than was previously appreciated.
PMCID: PMC4849793  PMID: 27124303
12.  PAX6, brain structure and function in human adults: advanced MRI in aniridia 
PAX6 is a pleiotropic transcription factor essential for the development of several tissues including the eyes, central nervous system, and some endocrine glands. Recently it has also been shown to be important for the maintenance and functioning of corneal and pancreatic tissues in adults. We hypothesized that PAX6 is important for the maintenance of brain integrity in humans, and that adult heterozygotes may have abnormalities of cortical patterning analogous to those found in mouse models.
We used advanced magnetic resonance imaging techniques, including surface‐based morphometry and region‐of‐interest analysis in adult humans heterozygously mutated for PAX6 mutations (n = 19 subjects and n = 21 controls). Using immunohistochemistry, we also studied PAX6 expression in the adult brain tissue of healthy subjects (n = 4) and patients with epilepsy (n = 42), some of whom had focal injuries due to intracranial electrode track placement (n = 17).
There were significant reductions in frontoparietal cortical area after correcting for age and intracranial volume. A greater decline in thickness of the frontoparietal cortex with age, in subjects with PAX6 mutations compared to controls, correlated with age‐corrected, accelerated decline in working memory. These results also demonstrate genotypic effects: those subjects with the most severe genotypes have the most widespread differences compared with controls. We also demonstrated significant increases in PAX6‐expressing cells in response to acute injury in the adult human brain.
These findings suggest a role for PAX6 in the maintenance and consequent functioning of the adult brain, homologous to that found in other tissues. This has significant implications for the understanding and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
PMCID: PMC4863745  PMID: 27231702
13.  Development and validation of an UPLC-MS/MS method for the quantification of ethoxzolamide in plasma and bioequivalent buffers: Applications to absorption, brain distribution, and pharmacokinetic studies 
The purpose of this study is to develop and validate an UPLC-MS/MS method to quantify ethoxzolamide in plasma (EZ) and apply the method to absorption, brain distribution, as well as pharmacokinetic studies. A C18 column was used with 0.1% of formic acid in acetonitrile and 0.1% of formic acid in water as the mobile phases to resolve EZ. The mass analysis was performed in a triple quadrupole mass spectrometer using multiple reaction monitoring (MRM) with positive scan mode. The results show that the linear range of EZ is 4.88–10,000.00 nM. The intra-day variance is less than 12.43 % and the accuracy is between 88.88–08.00 %. The inter-day variance is less than 12.87 % and accuracy is between 89.27–115.89 %. Protein precipitation was performed using methanol to extract EZ from plasma and brain tissues. Only 40 µL of plasma is needed for analysis due to the high sensitivity of this method, which could be completed in less than three minutes. This method was used to study the pharmacokinetics of EZ in SD rats, and the transport of EZ in Caco-2 and MDCK-MDR1 overexpressing cell culture models. Our data show that EZ is not a substrate for p-glycoprotein (P-gp) and its entry into the brain may not limited by the blood-brain barrier.
PMCID: PMC4507571  PMID: 25706567
ethoxzolamide; UPLC-MS/MS; Pharmacokinetics; absorption; CNS distribution
The genetic disease tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an autosomal dominant disorder caused by loss of function mutations in either TSC1 (hamartin) or TSC2 (tuberin), which serve as negative regulators of mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) activity. TSC patients exhibit developmental brain abnormalities and tuber formations that are associated with neuropsychological and neurocognitive impairments, seizures and premature death. Mechanistically, TSC1 and TSC2 loss of function mutations result in abnormally high mTORC1 activity. Thus, the development of a strategy to inhibit abnormally high mTORC1 activity may have therapeutic value in the treatment of TSC. mTORC1 is a master regulator of growth processes, and its activity can be reduced by withdrawal of growth factors, decreased energy availability, and by the immunosuppressant rapamycin. Recently, glutamine has been shown to alter mTORC1 activity in a TSC1-TSC2 independent manner in cells cultured under amino acid- and serum-deprived conditions. Since starvation culture conditions are not physiologically relevant, we examined if glutamine can regulate mTORC1 in non-deprived cells and in a murine model of TSC. Our results show that glutamine can reduce phosphorylation of S6 and S6 kinase, surrogate indicators of mTORC1 activity, in both deprived and non-deprived cells, although higher concentrations were required for non-deprived cultures. When administered orally to TSC2 knockout mice, glutamine reduced S6 phosphorylation in the brain and significantly prolonged their lifespan. Taken together, these studies suggest that glutamine supplementation can be used as a potential treatment for TSC.
PMCID: PMC4386275  PMID: 25613864
15.  Altered Regulation of Protein Kinase A Activity in the Medial Prefrontal Cortex of Normal and Brain-Injured Animals Actively Engaged in a Working Memory Task 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2015;32(2):139-148.
Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) signaling is required for short- and long-term memory. In contrast, enhanced PKA activity has been shown to impair working memory, a prefrontal cortex (PFC)-dependent, transient form of memory critical for cognition and goal-directed behaviors. Working memory can be impaired after traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the absence of overt damage to the PFC. The cellular and molecular mechanisms that contribute to this deficit are largely unknown. In the present study, we examined whether altered PKA signaling in the PFC as a result of TBI is a contributing mechanism. We measured PKA activity in medial PFC (mPFC) tissue homogenates prepared from sham and 14-day postinjury rats. PKA activity was measured both when animals were inactive and when actively engaged in a spatial working memory task. Our results demonstrate, for the first time, that PKA activity in the mPFC is actively suppressed in uninjured animals performing a working memory task. By comparison, both basal and working memory-related PKA activity was elevated in TBI animals. Inhibition of PKA activity by intra-mPFC administration of Rp-cAMPS into TBI animals had no influence on working memory performance 30 min postinfusion, but significantly improved working memory when tested 24 h later. This improvement was associated with reduced glutamic acid decarboxylase 67 messenger RNA levels. Taken together, these results suggest that TBI-associated working memory dysfunction may result, in part, from enhanced PKA activity, possibly leading to altered expression of plasticity-related genes in the mPFC.
PMCID: PMC4291093  PMID: 25027811
CREB; memory; PKA signaling; prefrontal cortex; traumatic brain injury
16.  Genetic Activation of mTORC1 Signaling Worsens Neurocognitive Outcome after Traumatic Brain Injury 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2015;32(2):149-158.
Although the mechanisms that contribute to the development of traumatic brain injury (TBI)-related deficits are not fully understood, it has been proposed that altered energy utilization may be a contributing factor. The tuberous sclerosis complex, a heterodimer composed of hamartin/Tsc-1 and tuberin/Tsc-2, is a critical regulatory node that integrates nutritional and growth signals to govern energy using processes by regulating the activity of mechanistic Target of Rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). mTORC1 activation results in enhanced protein synthesis, an energy consuming process. We show that mice that have a heterozygous deletion of Tsc2 exhibit elevated basal mTORC1 activity in the cortex and the hippocampus while still exhibiting normal motor and neurocognitive functions. In addition, a mild closed head injury (mCHI) that did not activate mTORC1 in wild-type mice resulted in a further increase in mTORC1 activity in Tsc2+/KO mice above the level of activity observed in uninjured Tsc2+/KO mice. This enhanced level of increased mTORC1 activity was associated with worsened cognitive function as assessed using the Morris water maze and context discrimination tasks. These results suggest that there is a threshold of increased mTORC1 activity after a TBI that is detrimental to neurobehavioral performance, and interventions to inhibit excessive mTORC1 activation may be beneficial to neurocognitive outcome.
PMCID: PMC4291161  PMID: 25025304
AMPK; concussion; memory; mTOR; mTBI; S6
17.  Altered Mitochondrial Dynamics and TBI Pathophysiology 
Mitochondrial function is intimately linked to cellular survival, growth, and death. Mitochondria not only generate ATP from oxidative phosphorylation, but also mediate intracellular calcium buffering, generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and apoptosis. Electron leakage from the electron transport chain, especially from damaged or depolarized mitochondria, can generate excess free radicals that damage cellular proteins, DNA, and lipids. Furthermore, mitochondrial damage releases pro-apoptotic factors to initiate cell death. Previous studies have reported that traumatic brain injury (TBI) reduces mitochondrial respiration, enhances production of ROS, and triggers apoptotic cell death, suggesting a prominent role of mitochondria in TBI pathophysiology. Mitochondria maintain cellular energy homeostasis and health via balanced processes of fusion and fission, continuously dividing and fusing to form an interconnected network throughout the cell. An imbalance of these processes, particularly an excess of fission, can be detrimental to mitochondrial function, causing decreased respiration, ROS production, and apoptosis. Mitochondrial fission is regulated by the cytosolic GTPase, dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1), which translocates to the mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM) to initiate fission. Aberrant Drp1 activity has been linked to excessive mitochondrial fission and neurodegeneration. Measurement of Drp1 levels in purified hippocampal mitochondria showed an increase in TBI animals as compared to sham controls. Analysis of cryo-electron micrographs of these mitochondria also showed that TBI caused an initial increase in the length of hippocampal mitochondria at 24 h post-injury, followed by a significant decrease in length at 72 h. Post-TBI administration of Mitochondrial division inhibitor-1 (Mdivi-1), a pharmacological inhibitor of Drp1, prevented this decrease in mitochondria length. Mdivi-1 treatment also reduced the loss of newborn neurons in the hippocampus and improved novel object recognition (NOR) memory and context-specific fear memory. Taken together, our results show that TBI increases mitochondrial fission and that inhibition of fission improves hippocampal-dependent learning and memory, suggesting that strategies to reduce fission may have translational value after injury.
PMCID: PMC4811888  PMID: 27065821
Drp1; mitochondrial dynamics; neurodegeneration; neurogenesis; TBI
18.  Traumatic Brain Injury Alters Methionine Metabolism: Implications for Pathophysiology 
Methionine is an essential proteinogenic amino acid that is obtained from the diet. In addition to its requirement for protein biosynthesis, methionine is metabolized to generate metabolites that play key roles in a number of cellular functions. Metabolism of methionine via the transmethylation pathway generates S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) that serves as the principal methyl (−CH3) donor for DNA and histone methyltransferases (MTs) to regulate epigenetic changes in gene expression. SAM is also required for methylation of other cellular proteins that serve various functions and phosphatidylcholine synthesis that participate in cellular signaling. Under conditions of oxidative stress, homocysteine (which is derived from SAM) enters the transsulfuration pathway to generate glutathione, an important cytoprotective molecule against oxidative damage. As both experimental and clinical studies have shown that traumatic brain injury (TBI) alters DNA and histone methylation and causes oxidative stress, we examined if TBI alters the plasma levels of methionine and its metabolites in human patients. Blood samples were collected from healthy volunteers (HV; n = 20) and patients with mild TBI (mTBI; GCS > 12; n = 20) or severe TBI (sTBI; GCS < 8; n = 20) within the first 24 h of injury. The levels of methionine and its metabolites in the plasma samples were analyzed by either liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry or gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS or GC-MS). sTBI decreased the levels of methionine, SAM, betaine and 2-methylglycine as compared to HV, indicating a decrease in metabolism through the transmethylation cycle. In addition, precursors for the generation of glutathione, cysteine and glycine were also found to be decreased as were intermediate metabolites of the gamma-glutamyl cycle (gamma-glutamyl amino acids and 5-oxoproline). mTBI also decreased the levels of methionine, α-ketobutyrate, 2 hydroxybutyrate and glycine, albeit to lesser degrees than detected in the sTBI group. Taken together, these results suggest that decreased levels of methionine and its metabolic products are likely to alter cellular function in multiple organs at a systems level.
PMCID: PMC4850826  PMID: 27199685
concussion; epigenetic changes; metabolomics; protein methylation; S-adenosylmethionine; transsulfuration
19.  The clinical features of retinal disease due to a dominant mutation in RPE65 
Molecular Vision  2016;22:626-635.
To present a detailed phenotypic and molecular study of two families with autosomal dominant RPE65-related retinal dystrophy.
Five patients from two families were ascertained from the retinal clinics of a tertiary referral center. Phenotyping included retinal imaging and electrophysiological testing. Bidirectional Sanger sequencing of exon 13 of RPE65 and its intron–exon boundaries was performed on all reported patients and segregation confirmed in available relatives. The main outcome measures were the results of an ophthalmic examination and investigation and molecular genetic analysis.
Four affected patients from two families presented with nyctalopia and central visual disturbance in adulthood progressing to severe visual loss by the fifth to eighth decades. The patients had extensive chorioretinal atrophy with a relatively preserved anterior retina. In the second family, one patient had bilateral, vitelliform-like foveal lesions consistent with adult onset vitelliform macular dystrophy and no peripheral retinal changes. These unrelated families were both heterozygous for c.1430A>G (p.Asp477Gly). One unaffected family member also tested positive for this mutation but had good vision at age 80 years.
Autosomal dominant retinal dystrophy resembling choroideremia can arise from a heterozygous mutation in RPE65. It may manifest with mild disease or be non-penetrant. Awareness of these unusual presentations can facilitate targeted molecular investigation.
PMCID: PMC4901053  PMID: 27307694
20.  Congenital high myopia and central macular atrophy; a report of 3 families 
Eye (London, England)  2015;29(7):936-942.
To report the clinical phenotype in a series of 4 children from 3 families with the rare association of high myopia, central macular atrophy and normal full-field electroretinography (ERG).
Four male patients were ascertained with reduced vision, nystagmus and atrophy of the macula from early childhood. Patients underwent full ophthalmic examination, electrophysiological testing and retinal imaging.
Minimum duration of follow up was 8 years. At last review, visual acuity ranged from 0.22 to 1.20 logMAR (6/9.5-6/95 Snellen) at a mean age of 10.5 years (median 9.5 years, range 9-14 years). Refractive error ranged from a spherical equivalent of −7.40 D to −24.00 D. Three had convergent squint. Fundus examination and imaging demonstrated bilateral macular atrophy in all patients, which varied from mild atrophy of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) to well demarcated, punched out atrophic lesions of retina, RPE and choroid. Flash ERG was normal under photopic and scotopic conditions in all patients. Pattern ERG, performed in 3 patients, was consistent with mild to severe macular dysfunction. Progression of the area of atrophy was evident in 1 patient and of the myopia in 2 patients but all patients had stable visual acuity.
Patients with congenital high myopia and macular atrophy present in infancy with reduced visual acuity and nystagmus. The macular atrophic lesions vary in size and severity but electrophysiological testing is consistent with dysfunction confined to the macula. There was no deterioration in visual acuity over 8-10 years of monitoring.
PMCID: PMC4499568  PMID: 25998941
21.  Mutations in PLK4, encoding a master regulator of centriole biogenesis, cause microcephaly, growth failure and retinopathy 
Nature genetics  2014;46(12):1283-1292.
Centrioles are essential for ciliogenesis. However, mutations in centriole biogenesis genes have been reported in primary microcephaly and Seckel syndrome, disorders without the hallmark clinical features of ciliopathies. Here we identify mutations in the master regulator of centriole duplication, the PLK4 kinase, and its substrate TUBGCP6 in patients with microcephalic primordial dwarfism and additional congenital anomalies including retinopathy, extending the human phenotype spectrum associated with centriole dysfunction. Furthermore, we establish that different levels of impaired PLK4 activity result in growth and cilia phenoptyes, providing a mechanism by which microcephaly disorders can occur with or without ciliopathic features.
PMCID: PMC4676084  PMID: 25344692
22.  Safety and Proof-of-Concept Study of Oral QLT091001 in Retinitis Pigmentosa Due to Inherited Deficiencies of Retinal Pigment Epithelial 65 Protein (RPE65) or Lecithin:Retinol Acyltransferase (LRAT) 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(12):e0143846.
Restoring vision in inherited retinal degenerations remains an unmet medical need. In mice exhibiting a genetically engineered block of the visual cycle, vision was recently successfully restored by oral administration of 9-cis-retinyl acetate (QLT091001). Safety and visual outcomes of a once-daily oral dose of 40 mg/m2/day QLT091001 for 7 consecutive days was investigated in an international, multi-center, open-label, proof-of-concept study in 18 patients with RPE65- or LRAT-related retinitis pigmentosa. Eight of 18 patients (44%) showed a ≥20% increase and 4 of 18 (22%) showed a ≥40% increase in functional retinal area determined from Goldmann visual fields; 12 (67%) and 5 (28%) of 18 patients showed a ≥5 and ≥10 ETDRS letter score increase of visual acuity, respectively, in one or both eyes at two or more visits within 2 months of treatment. In two patients who underwent fMRI, a significant positive response was measured to stimuli of medium contrast, moving, pattern targets in both left and right hemispheres of the occipital cortex. There were no serious adverse events. Treatment-related adverse events were transient and the most common included headache, photophobia, nausea, vomiting, and minor biochemical abnormalities. Measuring the outer segment length of the photoreceptor layer with high-definition optical coherence tomography was highly predictive of treatment responses with responders having a significantly larger baseline outer segment thickness (11.7 ± 4.8 μm, mean ± 95% CI) than non-responders (3.5 ± 1.2 μm). This structure-function relationship suggests that treatment with QLT091001 is more likely to be efficacious if there is sufficient photoreceptor integrity.
Trial Registration NCT01014052
PMCID: PMC4687523  PMID: 26656277
23.  Retinal Architecture in ​RGS9- and ​R9AP-Associated Retinal Dysfunction (Bradyopsia) 
American Journal of Ophthalmology  2015;160(6):1269-1275.e1.
To characterize photoreceptor structure and mosaic integrity in subjects with ​RGS9- and R9AP-associated retinal dysfunction (bradyopsia) and compare to previous observations in other cone dysfunction disorders such as oligocone trichromacy.
Observational case series.
setting: Moorfields Eye Hospital (United Kingdom) and Medical College Wisconsin (USA). study population: Six eyes of 3 subjects with disease-causing variants in ​RGS9 or R9AP. main outcome measures: Detailed retinal imaging using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography and confocal adaptive-optics scanning light ophthalmoscopy.
Cone density at 100 μm from foveal center ranged from 123 132 cones/mm2 to 140 013 cones/mm2. Cone density ranged from 30 573 to 34 876 cones/mm2 by 600 μm from center and from 15 987 to 16,253 cones/mm2 by 1400 μm from center, in keeping with data from normal subjects. Adaptive-optics imaging identified a small, focal hyporeflective lesion at the foveal center in both eyes of the subject with RGS9-associated disease, corresponding to a discrete outer retinal defect also observed on spectral-domain optical coherence tomography; however, the photoreceptor mosaic remained intact at all other observed eccentricities.
Bradyopsia and oligocone trichromacy share common clinical symptoms and cannot be discerned on standard clinical findings alone. Adaptive-optics imaging previously demonstrated a sparse mosaic of normal wave-guiding cones remaining at the fovea, with no visible structure outside the central fovea in oligocone trichromacy. In contrast, the subjects presented in this study with molecularly confirmed bradyopsia had a relatively intact and structurally normal photoreceptor mosaic, allowing the distinction between these disorders based on the cellular phenotype and suggesting different pathomechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4653116  PMID: 26343007
24.  Mutations in the unfolded protein response regulator ATF6 cause the cone dysfunction disorder achromatopsia 
Nature genetics  2015;47(7):757-765.
Achromatopsia (ACHM) is an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by color blindness, photophobia, nystagmus and severely reduced visual acuity. Using homozygosity mapping and whole-exome and candidate gene sequencing, we identified ten families carrying six homozygous and two compound-heterozygous mutations in the ATF6 gene (encoding activating transcription factor 6A), a key regulator of the unfolded protein response (UPR) and cellular endoplasmic reticulum (ER) homeostasis. Patients had evidence of foveal hypoplasia and disruption of the cone photoreceptor layer. The ACHM-associated ATF6 mutations attenuate ATF6 transcriptional activity in response to ER stress. Atf6−/− mice have normal retinal morphology and function at a young age but develop rod and cone dysfunction with increasing age. This new ACHM-related gene suggests a crucial and unexpected role for ATF6A in human foveal development and cone function and adds to the list of genes that, despite ubiquitous expression, when mutated can result in an isolated retinal photoreceptor phenotype.
PMCID: PMC4610820  PMID: 26029869
25.  A detailed clinical and molecular survey of subjects with nonsyndromic USH2A retinopathy reveals an allelic hierarchy of disease-causing variants 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2015;23(10):1318-1327.
Defects in USH2A cause both isolated retinal disease and Usher syndrome (ie, retinal disease and deafness). To gain insights into isolated/nonsyndromic USH2A retinopathy, we screened USH2A in 186 probands with recessive retinal disease and no hearing complaint in childhood (discovery cohort) and in 84 probands with recessive retinal disease (replication cohort). Detailed phenotyping, including retinal imaging and audiological assessment, was performed in individuals with two likely disease-causing USH2A variants. Further genetic testing, including screening for a deep-intronic disease-causing variant and large deletions/duplications, was performed in those with one likely disease-causing change. Overall, 23 of 186 probands (discovery cohort) were found to harbour two likely disease-causing variants in USH2A. Some of these variants were predominantly associated with nonsyndromic retinal degeneration (‘retinal disease-specific'); these included the common c.2276 G>T, p.(Cys759Phe) mutation and five additional variants: c.2802 T>G, p.(Cys934Trp); c.10073 G>A, p.(Cys3358Tyr); c.11156 G>A, p.(Arg3719His); c.12295-3 T>A; and c.12575 G>A, p.(Arg4192His). An allelic hierarchy was observed in the discovery cohort and confirmed in the replication cohort. In nonsyndromic USH2A disease, retinopathy was consistent with retinitis pigmentosa and the audiological phenotype was variable. USH2A retinopathy is a common cause of nonsyndromic recessive retinal degeneration and has a different mutational spectrum to that observed in Usher syndrome. The following model is proposed: the presence of at least one ‘retinal disease-specific' USH2A allele in a patient with USH2A-related disease results in the preservation of normal hearing. Careful genotype–phenotype studies such as this will become increasingly important, especially now that high-throughput sequencing is widely used in the clinical setting.
PMCID: PMC4592079  PMID: 25649381

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