Glial glutamate transporter EAAT2 plays a major role in glutamate clearance in synaptic clefts. Several lines of evidence indicate that strategies designed to increase EAAT2 expression have potential for preventing excitotoxicity, which contributes to neuronal injury and death in neurodegenerative diseases. We previously discovered several classes of compounds that can increase EAAT2 expression through translational activation. Here, we present efficacy studies of the compound LDN/OSU-0212320, which is a pyridazine derivative from one of our lead series. In a murine model, LDN/OSU-0212320 had good potency, adequate pharmacokinetic properties, no observed toxicity at the doses examined, and low side effect/toxicity potential. Additionally, LDN/OSU-0212320 protected cultured neurons from glutamate-mediated excitotoxic injury and death via EAAT2 activation. Importantly, LDN/OSU-0212320 markedly delayed motor function decline and extended lifespan in an animal model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We also found that LDN/OSU-0212320 substantially reduced mortality, neuronal death, and spontaneous recurrent seizures in a pilocarpine-induced temporal lobe epilepsy model. Moreover, our study demonstrated that LDN/OSU-0212320 treatment results in activation of PKC and subsequent Y-box–binding protein 1 (YB-1) activation, which regulates activation of EAAT2 translation. Our data indicate that the use of small molecules to enhance EAAT2 translation may be a therapeutic strategy for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
ALS; SOD1 mice; preclinical trial; combination treatment
Several lines of evidence indicate that glutamate plays a crucial role in the initiation of seizures and their propagation; abnormal glutamate release causes synchronous firing of large populations of neurons, leading to seizures. In the present study, we investigated whether enhanced glutamate uptake by increased glial glutamate transporter EAAT2, the major glutamate transporter, could prevent seizure activity and reduce epileptogenic processes. EAAT2 transgenic mice, which have a 1.5-2 fold increase in EAAT2 protein levels as compared to their non-transgenic counterparts, were tested in a pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus (SE) model. Several striking phenomena were observed in EAAT2 transgenic mice compared with their non-transgenic littermates. First, the post-SE mortality rate and chronic seizure frequency were significantly decreased. Second, neuronal degeneration in hippocampal subfields after SE were significantly reduced. Third, the SE-induced neurogenesis and mossy fiber sprouting were significantly decreased. The severity of cell loss in epileptic mice was positively correlated with that of mossy fiber sprouting and chronic seizure frequency. Our results suggest that increased EAAT2 expression can protect mice against SE-induced death, neuropathological changes, and chronic seizure development. This study suggests that enhancing EAAT2 protein expression is a potential therapeutic approach.
Excitotoxicity; Glutamate transporter; EAAT2; Temporal lobe epilepsy; Pilocarpine; Epileptogenesis
Glutamate is the primary excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter in the CNS. The concentration of glutamate in the synaptic cleft is tightly controlled by interplay between glutamate release and glutamate clearance. Abnormal glutamate release and/or dysfunction of glutamate clearance can cause overstimulation of glutamate receptors and result in neuronal injury known as excitotoxicity. The glial glutamate transporter EAAT2 plays a major role in glutamate clearance. Dysfunction or reduced expression of EAAT2 has been documented in many neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, many studies in animal models of disease indicate that increased EAAT2 expression provides neuronal protection. Here, we summarize these studies and suggest that EAAT2 is a potential target for the prevention of excitotoxicity. EAAT2 can be upregulated by transcriptional or translational activation. We discuss current progress in the search for EAAT2 activators, which is a promising direction for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
Excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2) is the major glutamate transporter and functions to remove glutamate from synapses. A thiopyridazine derivative has been found to increase EAAT2 protein levels in astrocytes. A structure-activity relationship study revealed that several components of the molecule were required for activity, such as the thioether and pyridazine. Modification of the benzylthioether resulted in several derivatives (7–13, 7–15 and 7–17) that enhanced EAAT2 levels by > 6 fold at concentrations < 5 μM after 24 h. In addition, one of the derivatives (7–22) enhanced EAAT2 levels 3.5 – 3.9 fold after 24 h with an EC50 of 0.5 μM.
Overproduction of free radicals can damage cellular components resulting in progressive physiological dysfunction, which has been implicated in many human diseases. Oxidative damage to RNA received little attention until the past decade. Recent studies indicate that RNA, such as messenger RNA and ribosomal RNA, is very vulnerable to oxidative damage. RNA oxidation is not a consequence of dying cells but an early event involved in pathogenesis. Oxidative modification to RNA results in disturbance of the translational process and impairment of protein synthesis, which can cause cell deterioration or even cell death. In this review, we discuss the mechanisms of oxidative damage to RNA and the possible biological consequences of damaged RNA. Furthermore, we review recent evidence suggesting that oxidative damage to RNA may contribute to progression of many human diseases.
RNA oxidation; Oxidative damage; Oxidative stress; Free radical; Neurodegeneration; Alzheimer’s disease; ALS
The glial glutamate transporter EAAT2 is the major mediator of glutamate clearance that terminates glutamate-mediated neurotransmission. Loss of EAAT2 and associated glutamate uptake function has been reported in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We previously reported that EAAT2 is associated with lipid raft microdomains of the plasma membrane. In the present study, we demonstrated that association of EAAT2 with lipid rafts is disrupted in AD brains. This abnormality is not a consequence of neuron degeneration, oxidative stress, or amyloid beta toxicity. In AD brains, cholesterol 24S-hydroxylase (CYP46), a key enzyme in maintenance of cholesterol homeostasis in the brain, is markedly increased in astrocytes but decreased in neurons. We demonstrated that increased expression of CYP46 in primary astrocytes results in a reduction of membrane cholesterol levels and leads to the dissociation of EAAT2 from lipid rafts and the loss of EAAT2 and associated glutamate uptake function. These results suggest that a disturbance of cholesterol metabolism may contribute to loss of EAAT2 in AD.
glutamate transporter EAAT2; lipid raft microdomain; Alzheimer’s disease; cholesterol 24S-hydroxylase; excitotoxicity
Excitotoxicity has been implicated as the mechanism of neuronal damage resulting from acute insults such as stroke, epilepsy, and trauma, as well as during the progression of adult-onset neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Excitotoxicity is defined as excessive exposure to the neurotransmitter glutamate or overstimulation of its membrane receptors, leading to neuronal injury or death. One potential approach to protect against excitotoxic neuronal damage is enhanced glutamate reuptake. The glial glutamate transporter EAAT2 is the quantitatively dominant glutamate transporter and plays a major role in clearance of glutamate. Expression of EAAT2 protein is highly regulated at the translational level. In an effort to identify compounds that can induce translation of EAAT2 transcripts, a cell-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was developed using a primary astrocyte line stably transfected with a vector designed to identify modulators of EAAT2 translation. This assay was optimized for high-throughput screening, and a library of approximately 140,000 compounds was tested. In the initial screen, 293 compounds were identified as hits. These 293 hits were retested at 3 concentrations, and a total of 61 compounds showed a dose-dependent increase in EAAT2 protein levels. Selected compounds were tested in full 12-point dose-response experiments in the screening assay to assess potency as well as confirmed by Western blot, immunohistochemistry, and glutamate uptake assays to evaluate the localization and function of the elevated EAAT2 protein. These hits provide excellent starting points for developing therapeutic agents to prevent excitotoxicity.
excitotoxicity; glutamate transporter; EAAT2; high-throughput screen; neurodegeneration
The heterologous expression and activation of the human P2Y2 nucleotide receptor (P2Y2R) in human 1321N1 astrocytoma cells stimulates α-secretase-dependent cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein (APP), causing extracellular release of the non-amyloidogenic protein sAPPα. To determine whether a similar response occurs in a neuronal cell, we analyzed whether P2Y2R-mediated production of sAPPα occurs in rat primary cortical neurons (rPCNs). In rPCNs, P2Y2R mRNA and receptor activity were virtually absent in quiescent cells, whereas overnight treatment with the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β (IL-1β) upregulated both P2Y2R mRNA expression and receptor activity by four-fold. The upregulation of the P2Y2R was abrogated by pre-incubation with Bay 11-7085, an IκB-α phosphorylation inhibitor, which suggests that P2Y2R mRNA transcript levels are regulated through NF-κB signaling. Furthermore, the P2Y2R agonist UTP enhanced the release of sAPPα in rPCNs treated with IL-1β or transfected with P2Y2R cDNA. UTP-induced release of sAPPα from rPCNs was completely inhibited by pretreatment of the cells with the metalloproteinase inhibitor TAPI-2 or the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY294002, and was partially inhibited by the MAPK/ERK kinase (MEK) inhibitor U0126 and the protein kinase C (PKC) inhibitor GF109203. These data suggest that P2Y2R-mediated release of sAPPα from cortical neurons is directly dependent on ADAM10/17 and PI3K activity, whereas ERK1/2 and PI3K activity may indirectly regulate APP processing. These results demonstrate that elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines associated with neurodegenerative diseases, such as IL-1β, can enhance non-amyloidogenic APP processing through upregulation of the P2Y2R in neurons.
Accumulating evidence indicates that RNA oxidation is involved in a wide variety of neurological diseases and may be associated with neuronal deterioration during the process of neurodegeneration. However, previous studies were done in postmortem tissues or cultured neurons. Here, we used transgenic mice to demonstrate the role of RNA oxidation in the process of neurodegeneration.
We demonstrated that messenger RNA (mRNA) oxidation is a common feature in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients as well as in many different transgenic mice expressing familial ALS-linked mutant copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1). In mutant SOD1 mice, increased mRNA oxidation primarily occurs in the motor neurons and oligodendrocytes of the spinal cord at an early, pre-symptomatic stage. Identification of oxidized mRNA species revealed that some species are more vulnerable to oxidative damage, and importantly, many oxidized mRNA species have been implicated in the pathogenesis of ALS. Oxidative modification of mRNA causes reduced protein expression. Reduced mRNA oxidation by vitamin E restores protein expression and partially protects motor neurons.
These findings suggest that mRNA oxidation is an early event associated with motor neuron deterioration in ALS, and may be also a common early event preceding neuron degeneration in other neurological diseases.
Atherosclerosis is an immunoinflammatory process that involves complex interactions between the vessel wall and blood components and is thought to be initiated by endothelial dysfunction [1–3]. Extracellular nucleotides that are released from a variety of arterial and blood cells  can bind to P2 receptors and modulate proliferation and migration of smooth muscle cells (SMC), which is known to be involved in intimal hyperplasia that accompanies atherosclerosis and postangioplasty restenosis . In addition, P2 receptors mediate many other functions, including platelet aggregation, leukocyte adherence, and arterial vasomotoricity. A direct pathological role of P2 receptors is reinforced by recent evidence showing that up-regulation and activation of P2Y2 receptors in rabbit arteries mediates intimal hyperplasia . In addition, up-regulation of functional P2Y receptors also has been demonstrated in the basilar artery of the rat double-hemorrhage model  and in coronary arteries of diabetic dyslipidemic pigs . It has been proposed that up-regulation of P2Y receptors may be a potential diagnostic indicator for the early stages of atherosclerosis . Therefore, particular effort must be made to understand the consequences of nucleotide release from cells in the cardiovascular system and the subsequent effects of P2 nucleotide receptor activation in blood vessels, which may reveal novel therapeutic strategies for atherosclerosis and restenosis after angioplasty.
atherosclerosis; inflammation; migration; nucleotide receptors; proliferation; restenosis; smooth muscle cell
Apoptosis is a major cause of cell death in the nervous system. It plays a role in embryonic and early postnatal brain development and contributes to the pathology of neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we report that activation of the P2X7 nucleotide receptor (P2X7R) in rat primary cortical neurons (rPCNs) causes biochemical (i.e., caspase activation) and morphological (i.e., nuclear condensation and DNA fragmentation) changes characteristic of apoptotic cell death. Caspase-3 activation and DNA fragmentation in rPCNs induced by the P2X7R agonist BzATP were inhibited by the P2X7R antagonist oxidized ATP (oATP) or by pre-treatment of cells with P2X7R antisense oligonucleotide indicating a direct involvement of the P2X7R in nucleotide-induced neuronal cell death. Moreover, Z-DEVD-FMK, a specific and irreversible cell permeable inhibitor of caspase-3, prevented BzATP-induced apoptosis in rPCNs. In addition, a specific caspase-8 inhibitor, Ac-IETD-CHO, significantly attenuated BzATP-induced caspase-9 and caspase-3 activation, suggesting that P2X7R-mediated apoptosis in rPCNs occurs primarily through an intrinsic caspase-8/9/3 activation pathway. BzATP also induced the activation of C-jun N-terminal kinase 1 (JNK1) and extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) in rPCNs, and pharmacological inhibition of either JNK1 or ERK1/2 significantly reduced caspase activation by BzATP. Taken together, these data indicate that extracellular nucleotides mediate neuronal apoptosis through activation of P2X7Rs and their downstream signaling pathways involving JNK1, ERK and caspases 8/9/3.
apoptosis; ATP; BzATP; caspase; P2X7 receptor
Emerging evidence indicates that nucleotide receptors are widely expressed in the nervous system. Here, we present evidence that P2Y and P2X receptors, particularly the P2X7 subtype, are coupled to the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway in astrocytes.P2Y and P2X receptor agonists ATP, uridine 5′-triphosphate (UTP) and 2′,3′-O-(4-benzoyl)-benzoyl ATP (BzATP) stimulated Akt phosphorylation in primary cultures of rat cortical astrocytes. BzATP induced Akt phosphorylation in a concentration- and time-dependent manner, similar to the effect of BzATP on Akt phosphorylation in 1321N1 astrocytoma cells stably transfected with the rat P2X7 receptor. Activation was maximal at 5 – 10 min and was sustained for 60 min; the EC50 for BzATP was approximately 50 μM. In rat cortical astrocytes, the positive effect of BzATP on Akt phosphorylation was independent of glutamate release.The effect of BzATP on Akt phosphorylation in rat cortical astrocytes was significantly reduced by the P2X7 receptor antagonist Brilliant Blue G and the P2X receptor antagonist iso-pyridoxal-5′-phosphate-6-azophenyl-2′,4′-disulfonic acid, but was unaffected by trinitrophenyl-ATP, oxidized ATP, suramin and reactive blue 2.Results with specific inhibitors of signal transduction pathways suggest that extracellular and intracellular calcium, PI3K and a Src family kinase are involved in the BzATP-induced Akt phosphorylation pathway.In conclusion, our data indicate that stimulation of astrocytic P2X7 receptors, as well as other P2 receptors, leads to Akt activation. Thus, signaling by nucleotide receptors in astrocytes may be important in several cellular downstream effects related to the Akt pathway, such as cell cycle and apoptosis regulation, protein synthesis, differentiation and glucose metabolism.
Purinergic receptors; astrocytes; BzATP; P2X7; Akt; PI3K; c-Src; calcium
The P2Y2 nucleotide receptor (P2Y2R) contains the integrin-binding domain arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) in its first extracellular loop, raising the possibility that this G protein–coupled receptor interacts directly with an integrin. Binding of a peptide corresponding to the first extracellular loop of the P2Y2R to K562 erythroleukemia cells was inhibited by antibodies against αVβ3/β5 integrins and the integrin-associated thrombospondin receptor, CD47. Immunofluorescence of cells transfected with epitope-tagged P2Y2Rs indicated that αV integrins colocalized 10-fold better with the wild-type P2Y2R than with a mutant P2Y2R in which the RGD sequence was replaced with RGE. Compared with the wild-type P2Y2R, the RGE mutant required 1,000-fold higher agonist concentrations to phosphorylate focal adhesion kinase, activate extracellular signal–regulated kinases, and initiate the PLC-dependent mobilization of intracellular Ca2+. Furthermore, an anti-αV integrin antibody partially inhibited these signaling events mediated by the wild-type P2Y2R. Pertussis toxin, an inhibitor of Gi/o proteins, partially inhibited Ca2+ mobilization mediated by the wild-type P2Y2R, but not by the RGE mutant, suggesting that the RGD sequence is required for P2Y2R-mediated activation of Go, but not Gq. Since CD47 has been shown to associate directly with Gi/o family proteins, these results suggest that interactions between P2Y2Rs, integrins, and CD47 may be important for coupling the P2Y2R to Go.
purinergic receptors; cell surface receptors; integrins; GTP-binding proteins; signal transduction