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author:("klang, Eric")
1.  In-Depth Quantitative Proteomic Analysis of de Novo Protein Synthesis Induced by Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor 
Journal of Proteome Research  2014;13(12):5707-5714.
Measuring the synthesis of new proteins in the context of a much greater number of pre-existing proteins can be difficult. To overcome this obstacle, bioorthogonal noncanonical amino acid tagging (BONCAT) can be combined with stable isotope labeling by amino acid in cell culture (SILAC) for comparative proteomic analysis of de novo protein synthesis (BONLAC). In the present study, we show that alkyne resin-based isolation of l-azidohomoalanine (AHA)-labeled proteins using azide/alkyne cycloaddition minimizes contamination from pre-existing proteins. Using this approach, we isolated and identified 7414 BONCAT-labeled proteins. The nascent proteome isolated by BONCAT was very similar to the steady-state proteome, although transcription factors were highly enriched by BONCAT. About 30% of the methionine residues were replaced by AHA in our BONCAT samples, which allowed for identification of methionine-containing peptides. There was no bias against low-methionine proteins by BONCAT at the proteome level. When we applied the BONLAC approach to screen for brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-induced protein synthesis, 53 proteins were found to be significantly changed 2 h after BDNF stimulation. Our study demonstrated that the newly synthesized proteome, even after a short period of stimulation, can be efficiently isolated by BONCAT and analyzed to a depth that is similar to that of the steady-state proteome.
PMCID: PMC4261974  PMID: 25271054
BONCAT; pulsed SILAC; mass spectrometry; proteomics; BDNF; translation
2.  PERK: a novel therapeutic target for neurodegenerative diseases? 
Identification of therapeutic targets based on novel mechanistic studies is urgently needed for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and prion disease. Multiple lines of evidence have emerged to suggest that inhibition of the stress-induced endoplasmic reticulum kinase PERK (protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase) is a potential therapeutic strategy for these diseases. A recently published study demonstrated that oral treatment with a newly characterized PERK inhibitor was able to rescue disease phenotypes displayed in prion disease model mice. Here, we discuss the background and rationale for targeting PERK as a viable therapeutic approach as well as implications of these findings for other neurodegenerative diseases. The promise and caveats of applying this strategy for disease therapy also are discussed.
PMCID: PMC4075240  PMID: 25031640
3.  Prohibitin viral gene transfer protects hippocampal CA1 neurons from ischemia and ameliorates post-ischemic hippocampal dysfunction 
Background and Purpose
Prohibitin (PHB) is a multi-functional protein involved in numerous cellular activities. PHB overexpression protects neurons from injury in vitro, but it is unclear whether PHB can protect selectively vulnerable hippocampal CA1 neurons in a clinically relevant injury model in vivo and, if so, whether the salvaged neurons remain functional.
A mouse model of transient forebrain ischemia that mimics the brain damage produced by cardiac arrest in humans was used to test whether PHB expression protects CA1 neurons from injury. PHB-expressing viral vector was microinjected in mouse hippocampus to upregulate PHB.
PHB overexpression protected CA1 neurons from transient forebrain ischemia. The protection was associated with dampened post-ischemic ROS generation, reduced mitochondrial cytochrome c release and decreased caspase-3 activation. Importantly, the improvement in CA1 neuronal viability translated into an improvement in hippocampal function: PHB expression ameliorated the spatial memory deficit induced by ischemia, assessed by the Y-maze test, and restored post-ischemic synaptic plasticity assessed by long-term potentiation, indicating that the neurons spared form ischemic damage were functionally competent.
These data demonstrate that PHB overexpression protects highly vulnerable CA1 neurons from ischemic injury in vivo, and suggest that the effect is mediated by reduction of post-ischemic ROS generation and preservation of mitochondrial outer membrane integrity that prevents activation of apoptosis. Measures to enhance PHB expression could have translational value in ischemic brain injury and, possibly, other forms of brain injury associated with mitochondrial dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3971834  PMID: 24619393
prohibitin; Mitochondria; neuroprotection; transient forebrain ischemia
4.  Inhibition of AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Signaling Alleviates Impairments in Hippocampal Synaptic Plasticity Induced by Amyloid β 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(36):12230-12238.
The AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a Ser/Thr kinase that is activated in response to low-energy states to coordinate multiple signaling pathways to maintain cellular energy homeostasis. Dysregulation of AMPK signaling has been observed in Alzheimer's disease (AD), which is associated with abnormal neuronal energy metabolism. In the current study we tested the hypothesis that aberrant AMPK signaling underlies AD-associated synaptic plasticity impairments by using pharmacological and genetic approaches. We found that amyloid β (Aβ)-induced inhibition of long-term potentiation (LTP) and enhancement of long-term depression were corrected by the AMPK inhibitor compound C (CC). Similarly, LTP impairments in APP/PS1 transgenic mice that model AD were improved by CC treatment. In addition, Aβ-induced LTP failure was prevented in mice with genetic deletion of the AMPK α2-subunit, the predominant AMPK catalytic subunit in the brain. Furthermore, we found that eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) and its kinase eEF2K are key downstream effectors that mediate the detrimental effects of hyperactive AMPK in AD pathophysiology. Our findings describe a previously unrecognized role of aberrant AMPK signaling in AD-related synaptic pathophysiology and reveal a potential therapeutic target for AD.
PMCID: PMC4152616  PMID: 25186765
Alzheimer's disease; long-term potentiation; neurodegeneration; protein synthesis; signaling; translation
5.  Requirement of Mammalian Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 Downstream Effectors in Cued Fear Memory Reconsolidation and Its Persistence 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(27):9034-9039.
Memory retrieval, often termed reconsolidation, can render previously consolidated memories susceptible to manipulation that can lead to alterations in memory strength. Although it is known that reconsolidation requires mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1)-dependent translation, the specific contributions of its downstream effectors in reconsolidation are unclear. Using auditory fear conditioning in mice, we investigated the role of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E)–eIF4G interactions and p70 S6 kinase polypeptide 1 (S6K1) in reconsolidation. We found that neither 4EGI-1 (2-[(4-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-thiazol-2-ylhydrazono)-3-(2-nitrophenyl)]propionic acid), an inhibitor of eFI4E–eIF4G interactions, nor PF-4708671 [2-((4-(5-ethylpyrimidin-4-yl)piperazin-1-yl)methyl)-5-(trifluoromethyl)-1H-benzo[d]imidazole], an inhibitor of S6K1, alone blocked the reconsolidation of auditory fear memory. In contrast, using these drugs in concert to simultaneously block eIF4E–eIF4G interactions and S6K1 immediately after memory reactivation significantly attenuated fear memory reconsolidation. Moreover, the combination of 4EGI-1 and PF-4708671 further destabilized fear memory 10 d after memory reactivation, which was consistent with experiments using rapamycin, an mTORC1 inhibitor. Furthermore, inhibition of S6K1 immediately after retrieval resulted in memory destabilization 10 d after reactivation, whereas inhibition of eIF4E–eIF4G interactions did not. These results indicate that the reconsolidation of fear memory requires concomitant association of eIF4E to eIF4G as well as S6K1 activity and that the persistence of memory at longer intervals after memory reactivation also requires mTORC1-dependent processes that involve S6K1. These findings suggest a potential mechanism for how mTORC1-dependent translation is fine tuned to alter memory persistence.
PMCID: PMC4078080  PMID: 24990923
consolidation; fear conditioning; long-term memory; mTORC1; reconsolidation; translation
6.  How ketamine helps to overcome depression 
eLife  null;3:e05418.
Genetically modified mice shed new light on how ketamine can target NMDA receptors in the brain to reduce the symptoms of depression.
PMCID: PMC4264404  PMID: 25497432
depression; cortex; synapse; ketamine; electrophysiology; protein synthesis; mouse; rat
7.  Translational Control by eIF2α Kinases in Long-lasting Synaptic Plasticity and Long-term Memory 
Although the requirement for new protein synthesis in synaptic plasticity and memory has been well established, recent genetic, molecular, electrophysiological, and pharmacological studies have broadened our understanding of the translational control mechanisms that are involved in these processes. One of the critical translational control points mediating general and gene-specific translation depends on the phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2 alpha (eIF2α) by four regulatory kinases. Here, we review the literature highlighting the important role for proper translational control via regulation of eIF2α phosphorylation by its kinases in long-lasting synaptic plasticity and long-term memory.
PMCID: PMC3769507  PMID: 23707798
protein synthesis; translation initiation; synaptic plasticity; learning; memory; knockout mouse; eIF2; GCN2; PERK; PKR; HRI
8.  Antipsychotics Activate mTORC1-Dependent Translation to Enhance Neuronal Morphological Complexity 
Science signaling  2014;7(308):ra4.
Although antipsychotic drugs can reduce psychotic behavior within a few hours, full efficacy is not achieved for several weeks, implying that there may be rapid, short-term changes in neuronal function, which are consolidated into long-lasting changes. Here, we showed that the antipsychotic drug haloperidol, a dopamine receptor type 2 (D2R) antagonist, stimulated the kinase Akt to activate the mRNA translation pathway mediated by the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1). In primary striatal D2R-positive neurons, haloperidol-mediated activation of mTORC1 resulted in increased phosphorylation of ribosomal protein S6 (S6) and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E-binding protein (4E-BP). Proteomic mass spectrometry revealed marked changes in the pattern of protein synthesis after acute exposure of cultured striatal neurons to haloperidol, including increased abundance of cytoskeletal proteins and proteins associated with translation machinery. These proteomic changes coincided with increased morphological complexity of neurons that was diminished by inhibition of downstream effectors of mTORC1, suggesting that mTORC1-dependent translation enhances neuronal complexity in response to haloperidol. In vivo, we observed rapid morphological changes with a concomitant increase in the abundance of cytoskeletal proteins in cortical neurons of haloperidol-injected mice. These results suggest a mechanism for both the acute and long-term actions of antipsychotics.
PMCID: PMC4063438  PMID: 24425786
9.  Genetic and Acute CPEB Depletion Ameliorate Fragile X Pathophysiology 
Nature medicine  2013;19(11):10.1038/nm.3353.
Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), the most common cause of inherited mental retardation and autism, is caused by transcriptional silencing of Fmr1, which encodes the translational repressor protein FMRP. FMRP and CPEB, an activator of translation, are present in neuronal dendrites, are predicted to bind many of the same mRNAs, and may mediate a translational homeostasis that, when imbalanced, results in FXS. Consistent with this possibility, Fmr1-/y Cpeb−/− double knockout mice displayed significant amelioration of biochemical, morphological, electrophysiological, and behavioral phenotypes associated with FXS. Acute depletion of CPEB in the hippocampus of Fmr1 -/y mice rescued working memory deficits, demonstrating reversal of this FXS phenotype in adults. Finally, we find that FMRP and CPEB balance translation at the level of polypeptide elongation. Our results suggest that disruption of translational homeostasis is causal for FXS, and that the maintenance of this homeostasis by FMRP and CPEB is necessary for normal neurologic function.
PMCID: PMC3823751  PMID: 24141422
10.  The Translation of Translational Control by FMRP: Therapeutic Targets for Fragile X Syndrome 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(11):1530-1536.
De novo protein synthesis is necessary for long-lasting modifications in synaptic strength and dendritic spine dynamics that underlie cognition1. Fragile X syndrome, characterized by intellectual disability and autistic behaviors, holds promise for revealing the molecular basis for these long-term changes in neuronal function. Loss-of-function of FMRP, the fragile X mental retardation protein, results in defects in synaptic plasticity and cognition in many models of the disease. FMRP is a polyribosome-associated RNA binding protein that regulates the synthesis of a set of plasticity-related proteins by stalling ribosomal translocation on target mRNAs. The recent identification of mRNA targets of FMRP and its upstream regulators, and the use of small molecules to stall ribosomes in the absence of FMRP, have the potential to be translated into novel therapeutic avenues for the treatment of FXS.
PMCID: PMC3999698  PMID: 23584741
11.  Regulator of Calcineurin 1 Modulates Expression of Innate Anxiety and Anxiogenic Responses to Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Treatment 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2013;33(43):16930-16944.
Regulator of calcineurin 1 (RCAN1) controls the activity of calcium/calmodulin-dependent phosphatase calcineurin (CaN), which has been implicated in human anxiety disorders. Previously, we reported that RCAN1 functioned as an inhibitor of CaN activity in the brain. However, we now find enhanced phosphorylation of a CaN substrate, cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB), in the brains of Rcan1 knock-out (KO) mice. Consistent with enhanced CREB activation, we also observe enhanced expression of a CREB transcriptional target, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in Rcan1 KO mice. We also discovered that RCAN1 deletion or blockade of RCAN1–CaN interaction reduced CaN and protein phosphatase-1 localization to nuclear-enriched protein fractions and promoted CREB activation. Because of the potential links between CREB, BDNF, and anxiety, we examined the role of RCAN1 in the expression of innate anxiety. Rcan1 KO mice displayed reduced anxiety in several tests of unconditioned anxiety. Acute pharmacological inhibition of CaN rescued these deficits while transgenic overexpression of human RCAN1 increased anxiety. Finally, we found that Rcan1 KO mice lacked the early anxiogenic response to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine and had improved latency for its therapeutic anxiolytic effects. Together, our study suggests that RCAN1 plays an important role in the expression of anxiety-related and SSRI-related behaviors through CaN-dependent signaling pathways. These results identify RCAN1 as a mediator of innate emotional states and possible therapeutic target for anxiety.
PMCID: PMC3807023  PMID: 24155299
12.  Suppression of eIF2α kinases alleviates AD-related synaptic plasticity and spatial memory deficits 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(9):1299-1305.
Expression of long-lasting synaptic plasticity and long-term memory requires new protein synthesis, which can be repressed by phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2α subunit (eIF2α). It was reported previously that eIF2α phosphorylation is elevated in the brains of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and AD model mice. Therefore, we determined whether suppressing eIF2α kinases could alleviate synaptic plasticity and memory deficits in AD model mice. The genetic deletion of the eIF2α kinase PERK prevented enhanced eIF2α phosphorylation, as well as deficits in protein synthesis, synaptic plasticity, and spatial memory in APP/PS1 AD model mice. Similarly, deletion of another eIF2α kinase, GCN2, prevented impairments of synaptic plasticity and spatial memory defects displayed in the APP/PS1 mice. Our findings implicate aberrant eIF2α phosphorylation as a novel molecular mechanism underlying AD-related synaptic pathophysioloy and memory dysfunction and suggest that PERK and GCN2 are potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of individuals with AD.
PMCID: PMC3756900  PMID: 23933749
13.  Neuronal Expression of the Ubiquitin E3 ligase APC/C-Cdh1 During Development is Required for Long-term Potentiation, Behavioral Flexibility, and Extinction 
Cdh1 is a regulatory subunit of the Anaphase Promoting Complex/Cyclosome (APC/C), a ubiquitin E3 ligase known to be involved in regulating cell cycle progression. Recent studies have demonstrated a role for Cdh1 in neurons during developmental and adult synaptic plasticity, as well as memory. In order to better characterize the contribution of Cdh1 in synaptic plasticity and memory, we generated conditional knockout mice using a neuron-specific enolase (Nse) promoter where Cdh1 was eliminated in neurons from the onset of differentiation. Although we detected impaired long-term potentiation (LTP) in hippocampal slices from the Nse-Cdh1 knockout (KO) mice, performance on several hippocampus-dependent memory tasks remained intact. However, the Nse-Cdh1 KO mice exhibited impaired behavioral flexibility and extinction of previously consolidated memories. These findings suggest a role for Cdh1 in regulating the updating of consolidated memories.
PMCID: PMC3562375  PMID: 23238556
14.  Genetic Removal of p70 S6 Kinase 1 Corrects Molecular, Synaptic, and Behavioral Phenotypes in Fragile X Syndrome Mice 
Neuron  2012;76(2):325-337.
Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the leading inherited cause of autism and intellectual disability. Aberrant synaptic translation has been implicated in the etiology of FXS, but most lines of research on therapeutic strategies have targeted protein synthesis indirectly, far upstream of the translation machinery. We sought to perturb p70 ribosomal S6 kinase 1 (S6K1), a key translation initiation and elongation regulator, in FXS model mice. We found that genetic reduction of S6K1 prevented elevated phosphorylation of translational control molecules, exaggerated protein synthesis, enhanced mGluR-dependent long-term depression (LTD), weight gain, and macro-orchidism in FXS model mice. In addition, S6K1 deletion prevented immature dendritic spine morphology and multiple behavioral phenotypes, including social interaction deficits, impaired novel object recognition, and behavioral inflexibility. Our results support the model that dysregulated protein synthesis is the key causal factor in FXS, and that restoration of normal translation can stabilize peripheral and neurological function in FXS.
PMCID: PMC3479445  PMID: 23083736
15.  Coordinate Regulation of Mature Dopaminergic Axon Morphology by Macroautophagy and the PTEN Signaling Pathway 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(10):e1003845.
Macroautophagy is a conserved mechanism for the bulk degradation of proteins and organelles. Pathological studies have implicated defective macroautophagy in neurodegeneration, but physiological functions of macroautophagy in adult neurons remain unclear. Here we show that Atg7, an essential macroautophagy component, regulates dopaminergic axon terminal morphology. Mature Atg7-deficient midbrain dopamine (DA) neurons harbored selectively enlarged axonal terminals. This contrasted with the phenotype of DA neurons deficient in Pten – a key negative regulator of the mTOR kinase signaling pathway and neuron size – that displayed enlarged soma but unaltered axon terminals. Surprisingly, concomitant deficiency of both Atg7 and Pten led to a dramatic enhancement of axon terminal enlargement relative to Atg7 deletion alone. Similar genetic interactions between Atg7 and Pten were observed in the context of DA turnover and DA-dependent locomotor behaviors. These data suggest a model for morphological regulation of mature dopaminergic axon terminals whereby the impact of mTOR pathway is suppressed by macroautophagy.
Author Summary
Macroautophagy is a major recycling pathway in cells, and its dysfunction is associated with neurological disorders including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and frontotemporal dementia. Here we show that Atg7, an essential component of macroautophagy, regulates mature dopaminergic axon terminal morphology in coordination with the well-described role of the PI3K pathway. Deficiency of Pten, a negative regulator of the PI3K/mTOR pathway, leads primarily to enlarged dopaminergic cell soma but normal-appearing axonal terminals, whereas Atg7 deficiency primarily induces enlarged axonal terminals. Atg7 and Pten double deficiency leads to further axon terminal enlargement, suggesting that Atg7 deficiency unmasks the impact of PI3K/mTOR pathway on mature dopaminergic axon terminals. In addition, we show that Atg7 and Pten coordinately regulate striatal dopamine turnover and dopamine-dependent motor behaviors. Taken together, these data support a novel role for Atg7-dependent macroautophagy in the regulation of dopaminergic axon terminal morphology, in coordination with the PI3K/mTOR pathway.
PMCID: PMC3789823  PMID: 24098148
16.  CYFIP1 Coordinates mRNA Translation and Cytoskeleton Remodeling to Ensure Proper Dendritic Spine Formation 
Neuron  2013;79(6):1169-1182.
The CYFIP1/SRA1 gene is located in a chromosomal region linked to various neurological disorders, including intellectual disability, autism, and schizophrenia. CYFIP1 plays a dual role in two apparently unrelated processes, inhibiting local protein synthesis and favoring actin remodeling. Here, we show that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)-driven synaptic signaling releases CYFIP1 from the translational inhibitory complex, triggering translation of target mRNAs and shifting CYFIP1 into the WAVE regulatory complex. Active Rac1 alters the CYFIP1 conformation, as demonstrated by intramolecular FRET, and is key in changing the equilibrium of the two complexes. CYFIP1 thus orchestrates the two molecular cascades, protein translation and actin polymerization, each of which is necessary for correct spine morphology in neurons. The CYFIP1 interactome reveals many interactors associated with brain disorders, opening new perspectives to define regulatory pathways shared by neurological disabilities characterized by spine dysmorphogenesis.
•BDNF-Rac1 signaling redistributes CYFIP1 between eIF4E and WRC•FRET demonstrates that BDNF-Rac1 signaling alters CYFIP1 conformation•CYFIP1-eIF4E-WRC regulates ARC synthesis, actin polymerization, and spine morphology•The CYFIP1 interactome is enriched in genes implicated in neurological disorders
CYFIP1 plays a dual role in inhibiting local protein synthesis and favoring actin remodeling. De Rubeis et al. show that BDNF-driven synaptic signaling releases CYFIP1 from the translational inhibitory complex, triggering translation of target mRNAs and shifting CYFIP1 into the WAVE regulatory complex.
PMCID: PMC3781321  PMID: 24050404
17.  Genetic Reduction of the α1 Subunit of Na/K-ATPase Corrects Multiple Hippocampal Phenotypes in Angelman Syndrome 
Cell reports  2013;4(3):405-412.
Angelman syndrome (AS) is associated with symptoms that include autism, intellectual disability, motor abnormalities, and epilepsy. We recently showed that AS model mice have increased expression of the alpha1 subunit of Na/K-ATPase (α1-NaKA) in the hippocampus, which was correlated with increased expression of axon initial segment (AIS) proteins. Our developmental analysis revealed that the increase in α1-NaKA expression preceded those of the AIS proteins. Therefore, we hypothesized that α1-NaKA overexpression drives AIS abnormalities, and that by reducing its expression these and other phenotypes could be corrected in AS model mice. Herein we report the genetic normalization of α1-NaKA levels in AS model mice corrects multiple hippocampal phenotypes, including alterations in the AIS, aberrant intrinsic membrane properties, impaired synaptic plasticity, and memory deficits. These findings strongly suggest that increased expression of α1-NaKA plays an important role in a broad range of abnormalities in the hippocampus of AS model mice.
PMCID: PMC3756897  PMID: 23911285
18.  Reversal of Impaired Hippocampal Long-term Potentiation and Contextual Fear Memory Deficits in Angelman Syndrome Model Mice by ErbB Inhibitors 
Biological Psychiatry  2012;72(3):182-190.
Angelman syndrome (AS) is a human neuropsychiatric disorder associated with autism, mental retardation, motor abnormalities, and epilepsy. In most cases, AS is caused by the deletion of the maternal copy of UBE3A gene, which encodes the enzyme ubiquitin ligase E3A, also termed E6-AP. A mouse model of AS has been generated and these mice exhibit many of the observed neurological alterations in humans. Because of clinical and neuroanatomical similarities between AS and schizophrenia, we examined AS model mice for alterations in the neuregulin-ErbB4 pathway, which has been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. We focused our studies on the hippocampus, one of the major brain loci impaired in AS mice.
We determined the expression of NRG1 and ErbB4 receptors in AS mice and wild-type littermates (ages 10-16 weeks), and studied the effects of ErbB inhibition on long-term potentiation (LTP) in hippocampal area CA1 and on hippocampus-dependent contextual fear memory.
We observed enhanced neuregulin-ErbB4 signaling in the hippocampus of AS model mice and found that ErbB inhibitors could reverse deficits in LTP, a cellular substrate for learning and memory. In addition, we found that an ErbB inhibitor enhanced long-term contextual fear memory in AS model mice.
Our findings suggest that neuregulin-ErbB4 signaling is involved in synaptic plasticity and memory impairments in AS model mice, suggesting that ErbB inhibitors have therapeutic potential for the treatment of AS.
PMCID: PMC3368039  PMID: 22381732
NRG1; ErbB4; Angelman syndrome; LTP; hippocampus; interneurons
20.  Dysregulation of mTOR Signaling in Fragile X Syndrome 
Fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited mental retardation and leading genetic cause of autism, is caused by transcriptional silencing of the Fmr1 gene. The fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), the gene product of Fmr1, is an RNA binding protein that negatively regulates translation in neurons. The Fmr1 knock-out mouse, a model of fragile X syndrome, exhibits cognitive deficits and exaggerated metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)-dependent long-term depression at CA1 synapses. However, the molecular mechanisms that link loss of function of FMRP to aberrant synaptic plasticity remain unclear. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling cascade controls initiation of cap-dependent translation and is under control of mGluRs. Here we show that mTOR phosphorylation and activity are elevated in hippocampus of juvenile Fmr1 knock-out mice by four functional readouts: (1) association of mTOR with regulatory associated protein of mTOR; (2) mTOR kinase activity; (3) phosphorylation of mTOR downstream targets S6 kinase and 4E-binding protein; and (4) formation of eukaryotic initiation factor complex 4F, a critical first step in cap-dependent translation. Consistent with this, mGluR long-term depression at CA1 synapses of FMRP-deficient mice is exaggerated and rapamycin insensitive. We further show that the p110 subunit of the upstream kinase phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and its upstream activator PI3K enhancer PIKE, predicted targets of FMRP, are upregulated in knock-out mice. Elevated mTOR signaling may provide a functional link between overactivation of group I mGluRs and aberrant synaptic plasticity in the fragile X mouse, mechanisms relevant to impaired cognition in fragile X syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3665010  PMID: 20071534
21.  Extinction-reconsolidation boundaries: key to persistent attenuation of fear memories 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2009;324(5929):951-955.
Dysregulation of the fear system is at the core of many psychiatric disorders. Much progress has been made in uncovering the neural basis of fear learning through studies in which associative emotional memories are formed by pairing an initially neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus, CS; e.g., a tone) to an unconditioned stimulus (US; e.g., a shock). Despite significant recent advances, the question of how to persistently weaken aversive CS-US associations, or dampen traumatic memories in pathological cases, remains a major dilemma. Two paradigms (blockade of reconsolidation and extinction) have been used in the laboratory to reduce acquired fear. Unfortunately, their clinical efficacy is limited: reconsolidation blockade typically requires potentially toxic drugs and extinction is not permanent. Here we describe a novel behavioral design, in rats, in which a fear memory is destabilized and reinterpretated as safe by presenting an isolated retrieval trial prior to an extinction session. This procedure permanently attenuates the fear memory without the use of drugs.
PMCID: PMC3625935  PMID: 19342552
22.  Glucagon-like Peptide-1 Cleavage Product GLP-1 (9-36) Amide Rescues Synaptic Plasticity and Memory Deficits in Alzheimer’s Disease Model Mice 
Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is an endogenous intestinal peptide that enhances glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Its natural cleavage product GLP-1 (9-36)amide possesses distinct properties and does not affect insulin secretion. Here we report that pretreatment of hippocampal slices with GLP-1(9-36)amide prevented impaired long-term potentiation (LTP) and enhanced long-term depression (LTD) induced by exogenous amyloid β peptide (Aβ1-42). Similarly, hippocampal LTP impairments in APP/PS1 mutant mice that model Alzheimer’s disease (AD) were prevented by GLP-1(9-36)amide. In addition, treatment of APP/PS1 mice with GLP-1 (9-36)amide at an age where they display impaired spatial and contextual fear memory resulted in a reversal of their memory defects. At the molecular level, GLP-1 (9-36)amide reduced elevated levels of mitochondrial-derived reactive oxygen species (ROS) and restored dysregulated Akt-GSK3β signaling in the hippocampus of APP/PS1 mice. Our findings suggest that GLP-1(9-36)amide treatment may have therapeutic potential for AD and other diseases associated with cognitive dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3475870  PMID: 23035082
23.  Altered mTOR signaling and enhanced CYFIP2 expression levels in subjects with Fragile X syndrome 
Genes, Brain, and Behavior  2012;11(3):332-341.
Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) is the most common form of inherited intellectual disability and autism. The protein (FMRP) encoded by the fragile X mental retardation gene (FMR1), is an RNA-binding protein linked to translational control. Recently, in the Fmr1 knockout mouse model of FXS, dysregulated translation initiation signaling was observed. To investigate whether an altered signaling was also a feature of subjects with FXS compared to typical developing controls, we isolated total RNA and translational control proteins from lymphocytes of subjects from both groups (38 FXS and 14 TD). Although we did not observe any difference in the expression level of mRNAs for translational initiation control proteins isolated from participant with FXS, we found increased phosphorylation of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) substrate, p70 ribosomal subunit 6 kinase1 (S6K1) and of the mTOR regulator, the serine/threonine protein kinase (Akt), in their protein lysates. In addition, we observed increased phosphorylation of the cap binding protein eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E) suggesting that protein synthesis is upregulated in FXS. Similarly to the findings in lymphocytes, we observed increased phosphorylation of S6K1 in brain tissue from patients with FXS (n=6) compared to normal age matched controls (n=4). Finally, we detected increased expression of the cytoplasmic FMR1-interacting protein 2 (CYFIP2), a known FMRP interactor. This data verify and extend previous findings using lymphocytes for studies of neuropsychiatric disorders and provide evidence that misregulation of mTOR signaling observed in a FXS mouse model also occurs in human FXS and may provide useful biomarkers for designing target treatments in FXS.
PMCID: PMC3319643  PMID: 22268788
Fragile X; CYFIP1; CYFIP2; mTOR; phosphorylation
24.  Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor-dependent Long-term Depression is Impaired Due to Elevated ERK Signaling in the ΔRG Mouse Model of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex 
Neurobiology of Disease  2011;45(3):1101-1110.
Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) and fragile X syndrome (FXS) are caused by mutations in negative regulators of translation. FXS model mice exhibit enhanced metabotropic glutamate receptor-dependent long-term depression (mGluR-LTD). Therefore, we hypothesized that a mouse model of TSC, ΔRG transgenic mice, also would exhibit enhanced mGluR-LTD. We measured the impact of TSC2-GAP mutations on the mTORC1 and ERK signaling pathways and protein synthesis-dependent hippocampal synaptic plasticity in ΔRG transgenic mice. These mice express a dominant/negative TSC2 that binds to TSC1, but has a deletion and substitution mutation in its GAP-domain, resulting in inactivation of the complex. Consistent with previous studies of several other lines of TSC model mice, we observed elevated S6 phosphorylation in the brains of ΔRG mice, suggesting upregulated translation. Surprisingly, mGluR-LTD was not enhanced, but rather was impaired in the ΔRG transgenic mice, indicating that TSC and FXS have divergent synaptic plasticity phenotypes. Similar to patients with TSC, the ΔRG transgenic mice exhibit elevated ERK signaling. Moreover, the mGluR-LTD impairment displayed by the ΔRG transgenic mice was rescued with the MEK-ERK inhibitor U0126. Our results suggest that the mGluR-LTD impairment observed in ΔRG mice involves aberrant TSC1/2-ERK signaling.
PMCID: PMC3276695  PMID: 22198573
tuberous sclerosis complex; TSC2; TSC1; mTORC1; ERK; fragile x syndrome; mGluR-LTD; NMDAR-LTD
25.  NADPH oxidase is required for NMDA receptor-dependent activation of ERK in hippocampal area CA1 
Journal of neurochemistry  2005;94(2):299-306.
Previous studies have shown that N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor activation results in production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in hippocampal area CA1. In addition, application of ROS to hippocampal slices has been shown to result in activation of ERK in area CA1. To determine whether these events were linked causally, we investigated whether ROS are required for NMDA receptor-dependent activation of ERK. In agreement with previous studies, we found that treatment of hippocampal slices with NMDA resulted in activation of ERK in area CA1. The NMDA receptor-dependent activation of ERK was either blocked or attenuated by a number of antioxidants, including the general antioxidant N-acetyl-l-cysteine (L-NAC), the superoxide-scavenging enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD), the membrane-permeable SOD mimetic Mn(III) tetrakis (4-benzoic acid) porphyrin (MnTBAP), the hydrogen peroxide-scavenging enzyme catalase, and the catalase mimetic ebselen. The NMDA receptor-dependent activation of ERK also was blocked by the NADPH oxidase inhibitor diphenylene iodonium (DPI) and was absent in mice that lacked p47phox, one of the required protein components of NADPH oxidase. Taken together, our results suggest that ROS production, especially superoxide production via NADPH oxidase, is required for NMDA receptor-dependent activation of ERK in hippocampal area CA1.
PMCID: PMC3544193  PMID: 15998281
learning and memory; long-term potentiation; oxygen species; reactive; superoxide

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