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author:("Cho, gina")
1.  Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia-Linked REEP1 Modulates ER-Mitochondria Contacts 
Annals of neurology  2015;78(5):679-696.
Mutations in receptor expression enhancing protein 1 (REEP1) are associated with hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs). Although axonal degeneration is thought to be a predominant feature in HSP, the role of REEP1 mutations in degeneration is largely unknown. Previous studies have implicated a role for REEP1 in the ER, whereas others localized REEP1 with mitochondria. We sought to resolve the cellular localization of REEP1 and to further elucidate the pathobiology underlying REEP1 mutations in patients.
A combination of cellular imaging and biochemical approaches was used to refine the cellular localization of REEP1. Next, Reep1 mutations associated with HSP were functionally tested in neuritic growth and degeneration assays using mouse cortical culture. Finally, a novel assay was developed and used with wild type and mutant Reep1s to measure the interactions between the ER and mitochondria.
We found that REEP1 is present at the ER-mitochondria interface, and it contains subdomains for mitochondrial as well as ER localization. Knockdown of Reep1 and the expression of pathological Reep1 mutations resulted in neuritic growth defects and degeneration. Finally, using our novel split-RLuc8 assay, we show REEP1 facilitates ER-mitochondria interactions, a function diminished by disease-associated mutations.
Our data potentially reconcile the current conflicting reports regarding REEP1 being either an ER or a mitochondrial protein. Furthermore, our results connect, for the first time, the disrupted ER-mitochondria interactions to a failure in maintaining health of long axons in HSPs. Finally, the split-RLuc8 assay offers a new tool to identify potential drugs for multiple neurodegenerative diseases with ER-mitochondria interaction defects.
PMCID: PMC4681538  PMID: 26201691
2.  ARX Regulates Cortical Intermediate Progenitor Cell Expansion and Upper Layer Neuron Formation Through Repression of Cdkn1c 
Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY)  2013;25(2):322-335.
Mutations in the Aristaless-related homeobox (ARX) gene are found in a spectrum of epilepsy and X-linked intellectual disability disorders. During development Arx is expressed in pallial ventricular zone (VZ) progenitor cells where the excitatory projection neurons of the cortex are born. Arx−/Y mice were shown to have decreased proliferation in the cortical VZ resulting in smaller brains; however, the basis for this reduced proliferation was not established. To determine the role of ARX on cell cycle dynamics in cortical progenitor cells, we generated cerebral cortex-specific Arx mouse mutants (cKO). The loss of pallial Arx resulted in the reduction of cortical progenitor cells, particularly the proliferation of intermediate progenitor cells (IPCs) was affected. Later in development and postnatally cKO brains showed a reduction of upper layer but not deeper layer neurons consistent with the IPC defect. Transcriptional profile analysis of E14.5 Arx-ablated cortices compared with control revealed that CDKN1C, an inhibitor of cell cycle progression, is overexpressed in the cortical VZ and SVZ of Arx KOs throughout corticogenesis. We also identified ARX as a direct regulator of Cdkn1c transcription. Together these data support a model where ARX regulates the expansion of cortical progenitor cells through repression of Cdkn1c.
PMCID: PMC4351425  PMID: 23968833
cell cycle; forebrain development; neurogenesis; neurodevelopmental disorders; TBR2
3.  Arx together with FoxA2, regulates Shh floor plate expression 
Developmental biology  2014;393(1):137-148.
Mutations in the Aristaless related homeodomain transcription factor (ARX) are associated with a diverse set of X-linked mental retardation and epilepsy syndromes in humans. Although most studies have been focused on its function in the forebrain, ARX is also expressed in other regions of the developing nervous system including the floor plate (FP) of the spinal cord where its function is incompletely understood. To investigate the role of Arx in the FP, we performed gain-of-function studies in the chick using in ovo electroporation, and loss-of-function studies in Arx-deficient mice. We have found that Arx, in conjunction with FoxA2, directly induces Sonic hedgehog (Shh) expression through binding to a Shh floor plate enhancer (SFPE2). We also observed that FoxA2 induces Arx through its transcriptional activation domain whereas Nkx2.2, induced by Shh, abolishes this induction. Our data support a feedback loop model for Arx function; through interactions with FoxA2, Arx positively regulates Shh expression in the FP, and Shh signaling in turn activates Nkx2.2, which suppresses Arx expression. Furthermore, our data are evidence that Arx plays a role as a context dependent transcriptional activator, rather than a primary inducer of Shh expression, potentially explaining how mutations in ARX are associated with diverse, and often subtle, defects.
PMCID: PMC4681535  PMID: 24968361
Spinal cord; neural tube; floor plate; development; Shh; Arx; FoxA2 and Nkx2.2
4.  Differential effects of a polyalanine tract expansion in Arx on neural development and gene expression 
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(5):1090-1098.
Polyalanine (poly-A) tracts exist in 494 annotated proteins; to date, expansions in these tracts have been associated with nine human diseases. The pathogenetic mechanism by which a poly-A tract results in these various human disorders remains uncertain. To understand the role of this mutation type, we investigated the change in functional properties of the transcription factor Arx when it has an expanded poly-A tract (ArxE), a mutation associated with infantile spasms and intellectual disabilities in humans. We found that although ArxE functions normally in the dorsal brain, its function in subpallial-derived populations of neurons is compromised. These contrasting functions are associated with the misregulation of Arx targets through the loss of the ability of ArxE to interact with the Arx cofactor Tle1. Our data demonstrate a novel mechanism for poly-A expansion diseases: the misregulation of a subset of target genes normally regulated by a transcription factor.
PMCID: PMC3277309  PMID: 22108177
5.  Distinct DNA binding and transcriptional repression characteristics related to different ARX mutations 
Neurogenetics  2012;13(1):23-29.
Mutations in the Aristaless-related homeobox gene (ARX) are associated with a wide variety of neurologic disorders including lissencephaly, hydrocephaly, West syndrome, Partington syndrome, and X-linked intellectual disability with or without epilepsy. A genotype-phenotype correlation exists for ARX mutations, however the molecular basis for this association has not been investigated. To begin understanding the molecular basis for ARX mutations, we tested the DNA binding sequence preference and transcriptional repression activity for Arx, deletion mutants and mutants associated with various neurologic disorders. We found DNA binding preferences of Arx are influenced by the amino acid sequences adjacent to the homeodomain. Mutations in the homeodomain show a loss DNA binding activity, while the T333N and P353R homeodomain mutants still possess DNA binding activities, although less than wild type. Transcription repression activity, the primary function of ARX, is reduced in all mutants except the L343Q, which has no DNA binding activity and does not functionally repress Arx targets. These data indicate that mutations in the homeodomain result in not only a loss of DNA binding activity but also loss of transcriptional repression activity. Our results provide novel insights into the pathogenesis of ARX related disorders and possible directions to pursue potential therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC3279587  PMID: 22252899
ARX; lissencephaly; X-linked intellectual disability and Homeodomain
6.  XLMR candidate mouse gene, Zcchc12 (Sizn1) is a novel marker of Cajal-Retzius cells 
Gene expression patterns : GEP  2010;11(3-4):216-220.
Sizn1 (Zcchc12) is a transcriptional co-activator that positively modulates BMP (Bone Morphogenic Protein) signaling through its interaction with Smad family members and CBP. We have demonstrated a role for Sizn1 in basal forebrain cholinergic neuron specific gene expression. Furthermore, mutations in SIZN1 have been associated with X-linked mental retardation. Given the defined role of SIZN1 in mental retardation, knowing its complete forebrain expression pattern is essential to further elucidating its role in cognition. To better define the dynamic expression pattern of Sizn1 during forebrain development, we investigated its expression in mouse brain development from embryonic day 8.0 (E8.0) to adult. We found that Sizn1 is primarily restricted to the ventral forebrain including the medial ganglionic eminence, the septum, amygdala, and striatum. In addition, Sizn1 expression is detected in the cortical hem and Pallial-subpallial boundary (PSB; anti-hem); both sources of Cajal-Retzius cells. Sizn1 expression in the dorsal forebrain is restricted to a subset of cells in the marginal zone that also express Reln, indicative of Cajal-Retzius cells. These data provide novel information on brain regions and cell types that express Sizn1, facilitating further investigations into the function of Sizn1 in both development and the pathogenesis of mental retardation.
PMCID: PMC3065530  PMID: 21172456
7.  Evidence that SIZN1 is a Candidate X-Linked Mental Retardation Gene 
An estimated 1-3% of individuals within the United States are diagnosed with mental retardation (MR), yet the cause is unknown in nearly 50% of the patients. While several environmental, genetic and combined teratogenetic etiologies have been identified, many causative genes remain to be identified. Furthermore, the pathogenetic mechanisms underlying MR are known for very few of these genes. Males have a much higher incidence of MR implicating genes on the X-chromosome. We have recently identified a novel gene, SIZN1, on the X-chromosome and showed that it functions in modulating the BMP signaling pathway. Furthermore, we have shown this gene is necessary for basal forebrain cholinergic neuron (BFCN) specific gene expression. Given that cognitive function is impaired when BFCNs are lost or functionally disrupted, we undertook a screen of cognitively impaired males for SIZN1 mutations. We report on four different sequence variants in SIZN1 in 11 individuals with nonsyndromic X-linked mental retardation. Our data implicate SIZN1 as a candidate gene for X-linked mental retardation and/or as a neurocognitive functional modifier.
PMCID: PMC2575800  PMID: 18798319
BMP; SIZN1(ZCCHC12); forebrain cholinergic neuron; X-linked mental retardation
8.  Identification of Arx transcriptional targets in the developing basal forebrain 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(23):3740-3760.
Mutations in the aristaless-related homeobox (ARX) gene are associated with multiple neurologic disorders in humans. Studies in mice indicate Arx plays a role in neuronal progenitor proliferation and development of the cerebral cortex, thalamus, hippocampus, striatum, and olfactory bulbs. Specific defects associated with Arx loss of function include abnormal interneuron migration and subtype differentiation. How disruptions in ARX result in human disease and how loss of Arx in mice results in these phenotypes remains poorly understood. To gain insight into the biological functions of Arx, we performed a genome-wide expression screen to identify transcriptional changes within the subpallium in the absence of Arx. We have identified 84 genes whose expression was dysregulated in the absence of Arx. This population was enriched in genes involved in cell migration, axonal guidance, neurogenesis, and regulation of transcription and includes genes implicated in autism, epilepsy, and mental retardation; all features recognized in patients with ARX mutations. Additionally, we found Arx directly repressed three of the identified transcription factors: Lmo1, Ebf3 and Shox2. To further understand how the identified genes are involved in neural development, we used gene set enrichment algorithms to compare the Arx gene regulatory network (GRN) to the Dlx1/2 GRN and interneuron transcriptome. These analyses identified a subset of genes in the Arx GRN that are shared with that of the Dlx1/2 GRN and that are enriched in the interneuron transcriptome. These data indicate Arx plays multiple roles in forebrain development, both dependent and independent of Dlx1/2, and thus provides further insights into the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the pathology of mental retardation and epilepsy phenotypes resulting from ARX mutations.
PMCID: PMC2581427  PMID: 18799476
9.  Sizn1 Is a Novel Protein That Functions as a Transcriptional Coactivator of Bone Morphogenic Protein Signaling▿ § 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2007;28(5):1565-1572.
Bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs) play pleotrophic roles in nervous system development, and their signaling is highly regulated at virtually every step in the pathway. We have cloned a novel gene, Sizn1 (Smad-interacting zinc finger protein), which functions as a transcriptional coactivator of BMP signaling. It positively modulates BMP signaling by interacting with Smad family members and associating with CBP in the transcription complex. Sizn1 is expressed in the ventral embryonic forebrain, where, as we will show, it contributes to BMP-dependent, cholinergic-neuron-specific gene expression. These data indicate that Sizn1 is a positive modulator of BMP signaling and provide further insight into how BMP signaling can be modulated in neuronal progenitor subsets to influence cell-type-specific gene expression and development.
PMCID: PMC2258788  PMID: 18160706

Results 1-9 (9)