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1.  Degeneration and impaired regeneration of gray matter oligodendrocytes in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(5):571-579.
Oligodendrocytes associate with axons to establish myelin and provide metabolic support to neurons. In the spinal cord of ALS mice, oligodendrocytes downregulate transporters that transfer glycolytic substrates to neurons and oligodendrocyte progenitors (NG2+ cells) exhibit enhanced proliferation and differentiation, although the cause of these changes in oligodendroglia is unknown. Here we report that there is extensive degeneration of gray matter oligodendrocytes in the spinal cord of ALS mice before disease onset. Although new oligodendrocytes were formed, they failed to mature, resulting in progressive demyelination. Oligodendrocyte dysfunction also is prevalent in human ALS, as gray matter demyelination and reactive changes in NG2+ cells were observed in motor cortex and spinal cord of ALS patients. Selective removal of mutant SOD1 from oligodendroglia substantially delayed disease onset and prolonged survival in ALS mice, suggesting that ALS-linked genes enhance the vulnerability of motor neurons and accelerate disease by directly impairing the function of oligodendrocytes.
PMCID: PMC3637847  PMID: 23542689
2.  Biosynthesis of the major brain gangliosides GD1a and GT1b 
Glycobiology  2012;22(10):1289-1301.
Gangliosides—sialylated glycosphingolipids—are the major glycoconjugates of nerve cells. The same four structures—GM1, GD1a, GD1b and GT1b—comprise the great majority of gangliosides in mammalian brains. They share a common tetrasaccharide core (Galβ1–3GalNAcβ1-4Galβ1-4Glcβ1-1′Cer) with one or two sialic acids on the internal galactose and zero (GM1 and GD1b) or one (GD1a and GT1b) α2–3-linked sialic acid on the terminal galactose. Whereas the genes responsible for the sialylation of the internal galactose are known, those responsible for terminal sialylation have not been established in vivo. We report that St3gal2 and St3gal3 are responsible for nearly all the terminal sialylation of brain gangliosides in the mouse. When brain ganglioside expression was analyzed in adult St3gal1-, St3gal2-, St3gal3- and St3gal4-null mice, only St3gal2-null mice differed significantly from wild type, expressing half the normal amount of GD1a and GT1b. St3gal1/2-double-null mice were no different than St3gal2-single-null mice; however, St3gal2/3-double-null mice were >95% depleted in gangliosides GD1a and GT1b. Total ganglioside expression (lipid-bound sialic acid) in the brains of St3gal2/3-double-null mice was equivalent to that in wild-type mice, whereas total protein sialylation was reduced by half. St3gal2/3-double-null mice were small, weak and short lived. They were half the weight of wild-type mice at weaning and displayed early hindlimb dysreflexia. We conclude that the St3gal2 and St3gal3 gene products (ST3Gal-II and ST3Gal-III sialyltransferases) are largely responsible for ganglioside terminal α2-3 sialylation in the brain, synthesizing the major brain gangliosides GD1a and GT1b.
PMCID: PMC3425327  PMID: 22735313
brain; ganglioside; myelin; sialic acid; sialyltransferase
3.  Molecular Comparison of GLT1+ and ALDH1L1+ Astrocytes In Vivo In Astroglial Reporter Mice 
Glia  2011;59(2):200-207.
Astrocyte heterogeneity remains largely unknown in the CNS due to lack of specific astroglial markers. In this study, molecular identity of in vivo astrocytes was characterized in BAC ALDH1L1 and BAC GLT1 eGFP promoter reporter transgenic mice. ALDH1L1 promoter is selectively activated in adult cortical and spinal cord astrocytes, indicated by the overlap of eGFP expression with ALDH1L1 and GFAP, but not with NeuN, APC, Olig2, IbaI, PDGFRα immunoreactivity in BAC ALDH1L1 eGFP reporter mice. Interestingly, ALDH1L1 expression levels (protein, mRNA, and promoter activity) in spinal cord were selectively decreased during postnatal maturation. In contrast, its expression was up-regulated in reactive astrocytes in both acute neural injury and chronic neurodegenerative (G93A mutant SOD1) conditions, similar to GFAP, but opposite of GLT1. ALDH1L1+ and GLT1+ cells isolated through fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) from BAC ALDH1L1 and BAC GLT1 eGFP mice share a highly similar gene expression profile, suggesting ALDH1L1 and GLT1 are co-expressed in the same population of astrocytes. This observation was further supported by overlap of the eGFP driven by the ALDH1L1 genomic promoter and the tdTomato driven by a 8.3kb EAAT2 promoter fragment in astrocytes of BAC ALDH1L1 eGFP X EAAT2-tdTomato mice. These studies support ALDH1L1 as a general CNS astroglial marker and investigated astrocyte heterogeneity in the CNS by comparing the molecular identity of the ALDH1L1+ and GLT1+ astrocytes from astroglial reporter mice. These astroglial reporter mice provide useful in vivo tools for the molecular analysis of astrocytes in physiological and pathological conditions.
PMCID: PMC3199134  PMID: 21046559
astroglia; BAC; ALDH1L1; GLT1; GFAP; oligodendroglia; ALS
4.  Pre-synaptic regulation of astroglial excitatory neurotransmitter transporter GLT1 
Neuron  2009;61(6):880-894.
The neuron-astrocyte synaptic complex is a fundamental operational unit of the nervous system. Astroglia play a central role in the regulation of synaptic glutamate, via neurotransmitter transport by GLT1/EAAT2. The astroglial mechanisms underlying this essential neuron-glial communication are not known. Here we show that presynaptic terminals are sufficient and necessary for GLT1/EAAT2 transcriptional activation and have identified the molecular pathway that regulates astroglial responses to presynaptic input. Presynaptic terminals regulate astroglial GLT1/EAAT2 via kappa B-motif binding phosphoprotein (KBBP), the mouse homologue of human heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein K (hnRNP K), which binds to an essential element of GLT1/EAAT2 promoter. This neuron-stimulated factor is required for GLT1/EATT2 transcriptional activation and is responsible for astroglial alterations in neural injury. Denervation of neuron-astrocyte signaling in vivo, by acute corticospinal tract transection, ricin-induced motor neuron death, or chronic neurodegeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) all result in reduced astroglial KBBP expression and transcriptional dysfunction of astroglial transporter expression. Our studies indicate that presynaptic elements dynamically coordinate normal astroglial function and also provide a fundamental signaling mechanism by which altered neuronal function and injury leads to dysregulated astroglia in CNS disease.
PMCID: PMC2743171  PMID: 19323997

Results 1-4 (4)