Transgenic mice that express mutant amyloid precursor protein (APPsi) using tet-Off vector systems provide an alternative model for assessing short- and long-term effects of Aβ-targeting therapies on phenotypes related to the deposition of Alzheimer-type amyloid. Here we use such a model, termed APPsi:tTA, to determine what phenotypes persist in mice with high amyloid burden after new production of APP/Aβ has been suppressed. We find that 12-13 month old APPsi:tTA mice are impaired in cognitive tasks that assess short- and long-term memories. Acutely suppressing new APPsi/Aβ production produced highly significant improvements in performance short-term spatial memory tasks; which upon continued suppression translated to superior performance in more demanding tasks that assess long-term spatial memory and working memory. Deficits in episodic-like memory and cognitive flexibility, however, were more persistent. Arresting mutant APPsi production caused a rapid decline in the brain levels of soluble APP ectodomains, full-length APP, and APP C-terminal fragments. As expected, amyloid deposits persisted after new APP/Aβ production was inhibited whereas, unexpectedly, we detected persistent pools of solubilizable, relatively mobile, Aβ42. Additionally, we observed persistent levels of Aβ immunoreactive entities that were of a size consistent with SDS-resistant oligomeric assemblies. Thus, in this model with significant amyloid pathology, a rapid amelioration of cognitive deficits was observed despite persistent levels of oligomeric Aβ assemblies and low, but detectable solubilizable Aβ42 peptides. These findings implicate complex relationships between accumulating Aβ and activities of APP, soluble APP ectodomains, and/or APP CTFs in mediating cognitive deficits in this model of amyloidosis.
Mutations in SOD1 cause FALS. The Cu binding capacity of SOD1 has spawned hypotheses that implicate metal-mediated production of reactive species as a potential mechanism of toxicity. In past experiments, we have tested such hypotheses by mutating residues in SOD1 that normally coordinate the binding of Cu, finding that such mutants retain the capacity to induce motor neuron disease. We now describe the lack of disease in mice that express a variant of human SOD1 in which residues that coordinate the binding of Cu and Zn have been mutated (SODMD). SODMD encodes 3 disease-causing and 4 experimental mutations that ultimately eliminate all histidines involved in the binding of metals; and includes one disease-causing and one experimental mutation that eliminate secondary metal binding at C6 and C111. We show that the combined effect of these mutations produces a protein that is unstable but does not aggregate on its own, is not toxic, and does not induce disease when co-expressed with high levels of wild-type SOD1. In cell culture models, we determine that the combined mutation of C6 and C111 to G and S, respectively, dramatically reduces the aggregation propensity of SODMD and may account for the lack of toxicity for this mutant.
superoxide dismutase 1; motor neuron disease; transgenic mouse models; protein aggregation
Recent research in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) field has been focused on the potential role of the amyloid-β protein that is derived from the transmembrane amyloid precursor protein (APP) in directly mediating cognitive impairment in AD. Transgenic mouse models overexpressing APP develop robust AD-like amyloid pathology in the brain and show various levels of cognitive decline. In the present study, we examined the cognition of the BRI2-Aβ transgenic mouse model in which secreted extracellular Aβ1-40, Aβ1-42 or both Aβ1-40/Aβ1-42 peptides are generated from the BRI-Aβ fusion proteins encoded by the transgenes. BRI2-Aβ mice produce high levels of Aβ peptides and BRI2-Aβ1-42 mice develop amyloid pathology that is similar to the pathology observed in mutant human APP transgenic models.
Using established behavioral tests that reveal deficits in APP transgenic models, BRI2-Aβ1-42 mice showed completely intact cognitive performance at ages both pre and post amyloid plaque formation. BRI2-Aβ mice producing Aβ1-40 or both peptides were also cognitively intact.
These data indicate that high levels of Aβ1-40 or Aβ1-42, or both produced in the absence of APP overexpression do not reproduce memory deficits observed in APP transgenic mouse models. This outcome is supportive of recent data suggesting that APP processing derivatives or the overexpression of full length APP may contribute to cognitive decline in APP transgenic mouse models. Alternatively, Aβ aggregates may impact cognition by a mechanism that is not fully recapitulated in these BRI2-Aβ mouse models.
Alzheimer’s disease; Mouse models; Amyloid-β; Amyloid plaques; Cognition
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) has been subdivided based on the main pathology found in the brains of affected individuals. When the primary pathology is aggregated, hyperphosphorylated tau, the pathological diagnosis is FTLD-tau. When the primary pathology is cytoplasmic and/or nuclear aggregates of phosphorylated TAR-DNA-binding protein (TDP-43), the pathological diagnosis is FTLD-TDP. Notably, TDP-43 pathology can also occur in conjunction with a number of neurodegenerative disorders; however, unknown environmental and genetic factors may regulate this TDP-43 pathology. Using transgenic mouse models of several diseases of the central nervous system, we explored whether a primary proteinopathy might secondarily drive TDP-43 proteinopathy. We found abnormal, cytoplasmic accumulation of phosphorylated TDP-43 specifically in two tau transgenic models, but TDP-43 pathology was absent in mouse models of Aβ deposition, α-synucleinopathy or Huntington’s disease. Though tau pathology showed considerable overlap with cytoplasmic, phosphorylated TDP-43, tau pathology generally preceded TDP-43 pathology. Biochemical analysis confirmed the presence of TDP-43 abnormalities in the tau mice, which showed increased levels of high molecular weight, soluble TDP-43 and insoluble full-length and ~35 kD TDP-43. These data demonstrate that the neurodegenerative cascade associated with a primary tauopathy in tau transgenic mice can also promote TDP-43 abnormalities. These findings provide the first in vivo models to understand how TDP-43 pathology may arise as a secondary consequence of a primary proteinopathy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1123-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Tau; TDP-43; Mouse; Transgenic; Neuropathology, tauopathy; TDP-43 proteinopathies
Heat-shock is an acute insult to the mammalian proteome. The sudden elevation in temperature has far-reaching effects on protein metabolism, leads to a rapid inhibition of most protein synthesis, and the induction of protein chaperones. Using heat-shock in cells of neuronal (SH-SY5Y) and glial (CCF-STTG1) lineage, in conjunction with detergent extraction and sedimentation followed by LC-MS/MS proteomic approaches, we sought to identify human proteins that lose solubility upon heat-shock. The two cell lines showed largely overlapping profiles of proteins detected by LC-MS/MS. We identified 58 proteins in detergent insoluble fractions as losing solubility in after heat shock; 10 were common between the 2 cell lines. A subset of the proteins identified by LC-MS/MS was validated by immunoblotting of similarly prepared fractions. Ultimately, we were able to definitively identify 3 proteins as putatively metastable neural proteins; FEN1, CDK1, and TDP-43. We also determined that after heat-shock these cells accumulate insoluble polyubiquitin chains largely linked via lysine 48 (K-48) residues. Collectively, this study identifies human neural proteins that lose solubility upon heat-shock. These proteins may represent components of the human proteome that are vulnerable to misfolding in settings of proteostasis stress.
Pathologic aggregates of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) harboring mutations linked to familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS) have been shown to contain aberrant intermolecular disulfide cross-links. In prior studies, we observed that intermolecular bonding was not necessary in the formation of detergent- insoluble SOD1 complexes by mutant SOD1, but we were unable to assess whether this type of bonding may be important for pathologic inclusion formation. In the present study, we visually assess the formation of large inclusions by fusing mutant SOD1 to yellow fluorescent protein (YFP).
Experimental constructs possessing mutations at all cysteine residues in SOD1 (sites 6, 57, 111, and 146 to F,S,Y,R or G,S,Y,R, respectively) were shown to maintain a high propensity of inclusion formation despite the inability to form disulfide cross-links. Interestingly, although aggregates form when all cysteines were mutated, double mutants of the ALS mutation C6G with an experimental mutation C111S exhibited low aggregation propensity.
Overall, this study is an extension of previous work demonstrating that cysteine residues in mutant SOD1 play a role in modulating aggregation and that intermolecular disulfide bonds are not required to produce large intracellular inclusion-like structures.
Recent studies have implicated an N-terminal caspase-6 cleavage product of mutant huntingtin (htt) as an important mediator of toxicity in Huntington's disease (HD). To directly assess the consequences of such fragments on neurologic function, we produced transgenic mice that express a caspase-6 length N-terminal fragment of mutant htt (N586) with both normal (23Q) and disease (82Q) length glutamine repeats. In contrast to mice expressing N586-23Q, mice expressing N586-82Q accumulate large cytoplasmic inclusion bodies that can be visualized with antibodies to epitopes throughout the N586 protein. However, biochemical analyses of aggregated mutant huntingtin in these mice demonstrated that the inclusion bodies are composed largely of a much smaller htt fragment (terminating before residue 115), with lesser amounts of full-length N586-82Q fragments. Mice expressing the N586-82Q fragment show symptoms typical of previously generated mice expressing mutant huntingtin fragments, including failure to maintain weight, small brain weight and reductions in specific mRNAs in the striatum. Uniquely, these N586-82Q mice develop a progressive movement disorder that includes dramatic deficits in motor performance on the rotarod and ataxia. Our findings suggest that caspase-6-derived fragments of mutant htt are capable of inducing novel HD-related phenotypes, but these fragments are not terminal cleavage products as they are subject to further proteolysis. In this scenario, mutant htt fragments derived from caspase 6, or possibly other proteases, could mediate HD pathogenesis via a ‘hit and run' type of mechanism in which caspase-6, or other larger N-terminal fragments, mediate a neurotoxic process before being cleaved to a smaller fragment that accumulates pathologically.
The molecular mechanisms by which polyglutamine (polyQ)-expanded huntingtin (Htt) causes neurodegeneration in Huntington's disease (HD) remain unclear. The malfunction of cellular proteostasis has been suggested as central in HD pathogenesis and also as a target of therapeutic interventions for the treatment of HD. We present results that offer a previously unexplored perspective regarding impaired proteostasis in HD. We find that, under non-stress conditions, the proteostatic capacity of cells expressing full length polyQ-expanded Htt is adequate. Yet, under stress conditions, the presence of polyQ-expanded Htt impairs the heat shock response, a key component of cellular proteostasis. This impaired heat shock response results in a reduced capacity to withstand the damage caused by cellular stress. We demonstrate that in cells expressing polyQ-expanded Htt the levels of heat shock transcription factor 1 (HSF1) are reduced, and, as a consequence, these cells have an impaired a heat shock response. Also, we found reduced HSF1 and HSP70 levels in the striata of HD knock-in mice when compared to wild-type mice. Our results suggests that full length, non-aggregated polyQ-expanded Htt blocks the effective induction of the heat shock response under stress conditions and may thus trigger the accumulation of cellular damage during the course of HD pathogenesis.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1, EC 18.104.22.168) cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS); with aggregated forms of mutant protein accumulating in spinal cord tissues of transgenic mouse models and human patients. Mice over-expressing wild-type human SOD1 (WT hSOD1) do not develop ALS-like disease, but co-expression of WT enzyme at high levels with mutant SOD1 accelerates the onset of motor neuron disease compared to mice expressing mutant hSOD1 alone. Spinal cords of mice expressing both proteins contain aggregated forms of mutant protein and, in some cases, evidence of co-aggregation of WT hSOD1 enzyme. In the present study, we used a cell culture model of mutant SOD1 aggregation to examine how the presence of WT SOD1 affects mutant protein aggregation, finding that co-expression of WT SOD1, human (hSOD1) or mouse (mSOD1), delayed the formation of mutant hSOD1 aggregates; in essence appearing to slow the aggregation rate. In some combinations of WT and mutant hSOD1 co-expression, the aggregates that did eventually form appeared to contain WT hSOD1 protein. However, WT mSOD1 did not co-aggregate with mutant hSOD1 despite displaying a similar ability to slow mutant hSOD1 aggregation. Together, these studies indicate that WT SOD1 (human or mouse), when expressed at levels equivalent to the mutant protein, modulates aggregation of FALS-mutant hSOD1.
superoxide; dismutase; aggregation; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Cerebellar Purkinje neurons (PNs) possess a well characterized propensity to fuse with bone marrow-derived cells (BMDCs), producing heterokaryons with Purkinje cell identities. This offers the potential to rescue/repair at risk or degenerating PNs in the inherited ataxias, including Spinocerebellar Ataxia 1 (SCA1), by introducing therapeutic factors through BMDCs to potentially halt or reverse disease progression. In this study, we combined gene therapy and a stem cell-based treatment to attempt repair of at-risk PNs through cell-cell fusion in a Sca1154Q/2Q knock-in mouse model. BMDCs enriched for the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) population were genetically modified using adeno-associated viral vector 7 (AAV7) to carry SCA1 modifier genes and transplanted into irradiated Sca1154Q/2Q mice. Binucleated Purkinje heterokaryons with sex-mismatched donor Y chromosomes were detected and successfully expressed the modifier genes in vivo. Potential effects of the new genome within Purkinje heterokaryons were evaluated using nuclear inclusions (NIs) as a biological marker to reflect possible modifications of the SCA1 disease process. An overall decrease in number of NIs and an increase in the number of surviving PNs were observed in treated Sca1154Q/2Q. Furthermore, Bergmann glia were found to have fusogenic potential with the donor population and reveal another potential route of therapeutic entry into at-risk cells of the SCA1 cerebellum. This study presents a first step towards a proof of principle that combines somatic cellular fusion events with a neuroprotective gene therapy approach for providing potential neuronal protection/repair in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders.
Spinocerebellar Ataxia 1; Bone marrow derived cells; Hematopoietic stem cells; Gene therapy; AAV; Stem cell fusion
Huntington's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expansion of CAG repeats in the huntingtin gene which produces widespread neuronal and glial pathology. We here investigated the possible therapeutic role of glia or glial products in Huntington's disease using striatal glial conditioned medium (GCM) from fetus mice (E16) continuously infused for 15 and 30 days with osmotic minipumps into the left striatum of R6/1 mice. Animals infused with GCM had significantly less huntingtin inclusions in the ipsilateral cerebral cortex and in the ipsilateral and contralateral striata than mice infused with cerebrospinal fluid. The numbers of DARPP-32 and TH positive neurons were also greater in the ipsilateral but not contralateral striata and substantia nigra, respectively, suggesting a neuroprotective effect of GCM on efferent striatal and nigro-striatal dopamine neurons. GCM increases activity of the autophagic pathway, as shown by the reduction of autophagic substrate, p-62, and the augmentation of LC3 II, Beclin-1 and LAMP-2 protein levels, direct markers of autophagy, in GCM infused mice. GCM also increases BDNF levels. These results suggest that CGM should be further explored as a putative neuroprotective agent in Huntington's disease.
Dietary manipulations are increasingly viewed as possible approaches to treating neurodegenerative diseases. Previous studies suggest that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients present an energy imbalance with brain hypometabolism and mitochondrial deficits. Ketogenic diets (KDs), widely investigated in the treatment and prevention of seizures, have been suggested to bypass metabolic deficits present in AD brain by providing ketone bodies as an alternative fuel to neurons. We investigated the effects of a ketogenic diet in two transgenic mouse lines. Five months old APP/PS1 (a model of amyloid deposition) and Tg4510 (a model of tau deposition) mice were offered either a ketogenic or a control (NIH-31) diet for 3 months. Body weight and food intake were monitored throughout the experiment, and blood was collected at 4 weeks and 4 months for ketone and glucose assessments. Both lines of transgenic mice weighed less than nontransgenic mice, yet, surprisingly, had elevated food intake. The ketogenic diet did not affect these differences in body weight or food consumption. Behavioral testing during the last two weeks of treatment found that mice offered KD performed significantly better on the rotarod compared to mice on the control diet independent of genotype. In the open field test, both transgenic mouse lines presented increased locomotor activity compared to nontransgenic, age-matched controls, and this effect was not influenced by KD. The radial arm water maze identified learning deficits in both transgenic lines with no significant differences between diets. Tissue measures of amyloid, tau, astroglial and microglial markers in transgenic lines showed no differences between animals fed the control or the ketogenic diet. These data suggest that ketogenic diets may play an important role in enhancing motor performance in mice, but have minimal impact on the phenotype of murine models of amyloid or tau deposition.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1), which are one cause of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS), induce misfolding and aggregation of the protein. Misfolding can be detected by the binding of antibodies raised against peptide epitopes that are normally buried in the native conformation, shifts in solubility in non-ionic detergents, and the formation of macromolecular inclusions. In the present study, we investigate the relationship between detergent-insoluble and sedimentable forms of mutant SOD1, forms of mutant SOD1 with aberrantly accessible epitopes, and mutant protein in inclusions with the goal of defining the spectrum of misfolded states that mutant SOD1 can adopt.
Using combined approaches in cultured cell models, we demonstrate that a substantial fraction of mutant SOD1 adopts a non-native conformation that remains soluble and freely mobile. We also show that mutant SOD1 can produce multimeric assemblies of which some are insoluble in detergent and large enough to sediment by ultracentrifugation and some are large enough to detect visually. Three conformationally restricted antibodies were found to be useful in discriminating mal-folded forms of mutant SOD1. An antibody termed C4F6 displays properties consistent with recognition of soluble, freely mobile, mal-folded mutant SOD1. An antibody termed SEDI, which recognizes C-terminal residues, detects larger inclusion structures as well as soluble misfolded entities. An antibody termed hSOD1, which recognizes aa 24-36, detects an epitope shared by soluble non-natively folded WT and mutant SOD1. This epitope becomes inaccessible in aggregates of mutant SOD1.
Our studies demonstrate how different methods of detecting misfolding and aggregation of mutant SOD1 reveal different forms of aberrantly folded protein. Immunological and biochemical methods can be used in combination to detect soluble and insoluble misfolded forms of mutant SOD1. Our findings support the view that mutant SOD1 can adopt multiple misfolded conformations with the potential that different structural variants mediate different aspects of fALS.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) cause some forms of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). Affected tissues of patients and transgenic mouse models of the disease accumulate misfolded and aggregated forms of the mutant protein. In the present study we have identified specific sequences in human SOD1 that modulate the aggregation of fALS mutant proteins. From our study of a panel of mutant proteins, we identify two sequence elements in human SOD1 (residues 42–50 and 109–123) that are critical in modulating the aggregation of the protein. These sequences are components of the 4th and 7th β-strands of the protein, and in the native structure are normally juxtaposed as elements of the core β-barrel. Our data suggest that some type of intermolecular interaction between these elements may occur in promoting mutant SOD1 aggregation.
Protein misfolding; Superoxide dismutase 1; Familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Genetic alterations in α-synuclein cause autosomal dominant familial Parkinsonism and may contribute to sporadic Parkinson's disease (PD). Synphilin-1 is an α-synuclein-interacting protein, with implications in PD pathogenesis related to protein aggregation. Currently, the in vivo role of synphilin-1 in α-synuclein-linked pathogenesis is not fully understood. Using the mouse prion protein promoter, we generated synphilin-1 transgenic mice, which did not display PD-like phenotypes. However, synphilin-1/A53T α-synuclein double-transgenic mice survived longer than A53T α-synuclein single-transgenic mice. There were attenuated A53T α-synuclein-induced motor abnormalities and decreased astroglial reaction and neuronal degeneration in brains in double-transgenic mice. Overexpression of synphilin-1 decreased caspase-3 activation, increased beclin-1 and LC3 II expression and promoted formation of aggresome-like structures, suggesting that synphilin-1 alters multiple cellular pathways to protect against neuronal degeneration. These studies demonstrate that synphilin-1 can diminish the severity of α-synucleinopathy and play a neuroprotective role against A53T α-synuclein toxicity in vivo.
Oxidative stress and mitochondrial impairment are the main pathogenic mechanisms of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a severe neurodegenerative disease still lacking of effective therapy. Recently, the coenzyme-Q (CoQ) complex, a key component of mitochondrial function and redox-state modulator, has raised interest for ALS treatment. However, while the oxidized form ubiquinone10 was ineffective in ALS patients and modestly effective in mouse models of ALS, no evidence was reported on the effect of the reduced form ubiquinol10, which has better bioavailability and antioxidant properties. In this study we compared the effects of ubiquinone10 and a new stabilized formulation of ubiquinol10 on the disease course of SOD1G93A transgenic mice, an experimental model of fALS. Chronic treatments (800 mg/kg/day orally) started from the onset of disease until death, to mimic the clinical trials that only include patients with definite ALS symptoms. Although the plasma levels of CoQ10 were significantly increased by both treatments (from <0.20 to 3.0–3.4 µg/mL), no effect was found on the disease progression and survival of SOD1G93A mice. The levels of CoQ10 in the brain and spinal cord of ubiquinone10- or ubiquinol10-treated mice were only slightly higher (≤10%) than the endogenous levels in vehicle-treated mice, indicating poor CNS availability after oral dosing and possibly explaining the lack of pharmacological effects. To further examine this issue, we measured the oxidized and reduced forms of CoQ9/10 in the plasma, brain and spinal cord of symptomatic SOD1G93A mice, in comparison with age-matched SOD1WT. Levels of ubiquinol9/10, but not ubiquinone9/10, were significantly higher in the CNS, but not in plasma, of SOD1G93A mice, suggesting that CoQ redox system might participate in the mechanisms trying to counteract the pathology progression. Therefore, the very low increases of CoQ10 induced by oral treatments in CNS might be not sufficient to provide significant neuroprotection in SOD1G93A mice.
The role of amyloid-β (Aβ) in the neurodegeneration of Alzheimer’s disease remains controversial, to a large extent because of the lack of robust neurodegeneration in mouse models of AD. To address this question, we examined the effects of Aβ antibodies in the recently described monoaminergic (MAergic) axonal degeneration in AβPPswe/PS1dE9 mice. To determine if Aβ accumulation is directly involved in degeneration of MAergic axons, we examined the effects of passive anti-Aβ antibody (7B6) administration on Aβ pathology and MAergic degeneration in AβPPswe/PS1dE9 mice. Injections of monoclonal antibody (mAb) 7B6 into mice (6 to 9 months of age) resulted in a modest reduction of Aβ load in the brains of AβPPswe/PS1dE9 mice. In addition, 7B6 treated AβPPswe/PS1dE9 mice had significantly higher densities of MAergic axons in both cortex and in hippocampus as compared to untreated mutant mice. For example, 7B6 treated mice showed almost 2-fold greater densities of serotonergic (5-HT) axons in the cortex compared to saline treated mice. Similar findings were observed in the catecholaminergic (TH) axons. Our results demonstrate that lowering of Aβ levels via passive Aβ immunotherapy ameliorates ongoing degenerative processes, supporting a causal link between Aβ and neurodegeneration.
Amyloid-β; axon; immunotherapy; neurodegeneration; serotonergic
Mutations in the TARDBP gene, which encodes the Tar DNA binding protein, have been shown to causes of both familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) and sporadic ALS (SALS). Recently, several novel TARDBP exon 6 mutants have been reported in patients with ALS in Europe and America but not in Asia. To further examine the spectrum and frequency of TARDBP exon 6 mutations, we investigated their frequency in ethnic Chinese patients with sporadic ALS. TARDBP exon 6 was screened by direct sequencing in 207 non-SOD1 SALS patients and 230 unrelated healthy controls but no mutations were identified. Our data indicate that exon 6 mutations in TARDBP are not a common cause of SALS in Han Chinese population from Southern Mainland China.
Huntington's disease (HD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized pathologically by aggregates composed of N-terminal fragments of the mutant form of the protein huntingtin (htt). The role of these N-terminal fragments in disease pathogenesis has been questioned based in part on studies in transgenic mice. In one important example, mice that express an N-terminal fragment of mutant htt terminating at the C-terminus of exon 2 (termed the Shortstop mouse) were reported to develop robust inclusion pathology without developing phenotypic abnormalities seen in the R6/2 or N171-82Q models of HD, which are also based on expression of mutant N-terminal htt fragments. To further explore the capacity of mutant exon-2 htt fragments to produce neurologic abnormalities (N-terminal 118 amino acids; N118), we generated transgenic mice expressing cDNA that encodes htt N118-82Q with the mouse prion promoter vector. In mice generated in this manner, we demonstrate robust inclusion pathology accompanied by early death and failure to gain weight. These phenotypes are the most robust abnormalities identified in the R6/2 and N171-82Q models. We conclude that the lack of an overt phenotype in the initial Shortstop mice cannot be completely explained by the properties of mutant htt N118 fragments.
Radix Hedysari is an herbal preparation frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine. It can promote regeneration after peripheral nerve injury, but its effect on the amplification ratio (the ratio of distal to proximal fibers) during peripheral nerve regeneration has not yet been examined. In this study, we explored the effect of Hedysari extract on the amplification ratio in the peripheral nerve. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were separated into three groups at random: normal group (without surgery), model group (given sleeve nerve bridging surgery, but without adjuvant treatment) and treatment group (given sleeve nerve bridging surgery and then given Hedysari extract as adjuvant treatment). Twelve weeks after surgery, general observations, electrophysiological examination, histological analysis, morphometric measurements, and amplification ratio calculations were made. The results showed that nerve conduction velocity, the fiber and axon diameter, the g-ratio, the number of regenerating nerve fibers and the amplification ratio were better in the treatment group than in the model group, suggesting that Hedysari extract can effectively promote the growth of lateral buds in the proximal nerve stump and substantially improve the amplification effect during peripheral nerve regeneration.
While oxidative stress is implicated in aging, the impact of oxidative stress on aging in the peripheral nervous system is not well understood. To determine a potential mechanism for age-related deficits in the peripheral nervous system, we examined both functional and morphological changes and utilized microarray technology to compare normal aging in wild-type mice to effects in copper/zinc superoxide dismutase-deficient (Sod1−/−) mice, a mouse model of increased oxidative stress. Sod1−/− mice exhibit a peripheral neuropathy phenotype with normal sensory nerve function and deficits in motor nerve function. Our data indicate that a decrease in the synthesis of cholesterol, which is vital to myelin formation, correlates with the structural deficits in axons, myelin, and the cell body of motor neurons in the Sod1+/+ mice at 30 months and the Sod1−/− mice at 20 months compared with mice at 2 months. Collectively, we have demonstrated that the functional and morphological changes within the peripheral nervous system in our model of increased oxidative stress are manifested earlier and resemble the deficits observed during normal aging.
Adeno-associated virus (AAV) mediated gene expression is a powerful tool for gene therapy and preclinical studies. A comprehensive analysis of CNS cell type tropism, expression levels and biodistribution of different capsid serotypes has not yet been undertaken in neonatal rodents. Our previous studies show that intracerebroventricular injection with AAV2/1 on neonatal day P0 results in widespread CNS expression but the biodistribution is limited if injected beyond neonatal day P1. To extend these observations we explored the effect of timing of injection on tropism and biodistribution of six commonly used pseudotyped AAVs delivered in the cerebral ventricles of neonatal mice. We demonstrate that AAV2/8 and 2/9 resulted in the most widespread biodistribution in the brain. Most serotypes showed varying biodistribution depending on the day of injection. Injection on neonatal day P0 resulted in mostly neuronal transduction, whereas administration in later periods of development (24–84 hours postnatal) resulted in more non-neuronal transduction. AAV2/5 showed widespread transduction of astrocytes irrespective of the time of injection. None of the serotypes tested showed any microglial transduction. This study demonstrates that both capsid serotype and timing of injection influence the regional and cell-type distribution of AAV in neonatal rodents, and emphasizes the utility of pseudotyped AAV vectors for translational gene therapy paradigms.
The pathology of many neurodegenerative diseases is characterized by the accumulation of misfolded and aggregated proteins in various cell types and regional substructures throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. The accumulation of these aggregated proteins signals dysfunction of cellular protein homeostatic mechanisms such as the ubiquitin/proteasome system, autophagy, and the chaperone network. Although there are several published studies in which transcriptional profiling has been used to examine gene expression in various tissues, including tissues of neurodegenerative disease models, there has not been a report that focuses exclusively on expression of the chaperone network. In the present study, we used the Allen Brain Atlas online database to analyze chaperone expression levels. This database utilizes a quantitative in situ hybridization approach and provides data on 270 chaperone genes within many substructures of the adult mouse brain. We determined that 256 of these chaperone genes are expressed at some level. Surprisingly, relatively few genes, only 30, showed significant variations in levels of mRNA across different substructures of the brain. The greatest degree of variability was exhibited by genes of the DnaJ co-chaperone, Tetratricopeptide repeat, and the HSPH families. Our analysis provides a valuable resource towards determining how variations in chaperone gene expression may modulate the vulnerability of specific neuronal populations of mammalian brain.
Mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) are associated with familial cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS). Studies in transgenic mice have suggested that wild-type (WT) SOD1 can modulate the toxicity of mutant SOD1. In the present study, we demonstrate that the effects of WT SOD1 on the age at which transgenic mice expressing mutant human SOD1 (hSOD1) develop paralysis are influenced by the nature of the ALS mutation and the expression levels of WT hSOD1. We show that regardless of whether WT SOD1 changes the course of disease, both WT and mutant hSOD1 accumulate as detergent-insoluble aggregates in symptomatic mice expressing both proteins. However, using a panel of fluorescently tagged variants of SOD1 in a cell model of mutant SOD1 aggregation, we demonstrate that the interactions between mutant and WT SOD1 in aggregate formation are not simply a co-assembly of mutant and WT proteins. Overall, these data demonstrate that the product of the normal SOD1 allele in fALS has potential to influence the toxicity of mutant SOD1 and that complex interactions with the mutant protein may influence the formation of aggregates and inclusion bodies generated by mutant SOD1.