In the mammalian brain, the α7 nicotinic and NMDA receptor antagonist kynurenic acid is synthesized by irreversible enzymatic transamination of the tryptophan metabolite l-kynure-nine. d-kynurenine, too, serves as a bioprecursor of kynurenic acid in several organs including the brain, but the conversion is reportedly catalyzed through oxidative deamination by d-aminoacid oxidase. Using brain and liver tissue homogenates from rats and humans, and conventional incubation conditions for kynurenine aminotransferases, we show here that kynurenic acid production from d-kynurenine, like the more efficient kynurenic acid synthesis from l-kynurenine, is blocked by the aminotransferase inhibitor amino-oxyacetic acid. In vivo, focal application of 100 µM d-kynurenine by reverse microdialysis led to a steady rise in extracellular kynurenic acid in the rat striatum, causing a 4-fold elevation after 2 h. Attesting to functional significance, this increase was accompanied by a 36% reduction in extracellular dopamine. Both of these effects were duplicated by perfusion of 2 µM l-kynurenine. Co-infusion of amino-oxyacetic acid (2 mM) significantly attenuated the in vivo effects of d-kynurenine and essentially eliminated the effects of l-kynurenine. Thus, enzymatic transamination accounts in part for kynurenic acid synthesis from d-kynurenine in the brain. These results are discussed with regard to implications for brain physiology and pathology.
α7 nicotinic receptor; aminotransferases; dopamine; microdialysis; NMDA receptor; schizophrenia
G protein-coupled receptors are known to form homo- and heteromers at the plasma membrane, but the stoichiometry of these receptor oligomers are relatively unknown. Here, by using bimolecular fluorescence complementation, we visualized for the first time the occurrence of heterodimers of metabotropic glutamate mGlu5 receptors (mGlu5R) and dopamine D2 receptors (D2R) in living cells. Furthermore, the combination of bimolecular fluorescence complementation and bioluminescence resonance energy transfer techniques, as well as the sequential resonance energy transfer (SRET) technique, allowed us to detect the occurrence receptor oligomers containing more than two protomers, mGlu5R, D2R and adenosine A2A receptor (A2AR). Interestingly, by using high-resolution immunoelectron microscopy we could confirm that the three receptors co-distribute within the extrasynaptic plasma membrane of the same dendritic spines of asymmetrical, putative glutamatergic, striatal synapses. Also, co-immunoprecipitation experiments in native tissue demonstrated the existence of an association of mGlu5R, D2R and A2AR in rat striatum homogenates. Overall, these results provide new insights into the molecular composition of G protein-coupled receptor oligomers in general and the mGlu5R/D2R/A2AR oligomer in particular, a receptor oligomer that might constitute an important target for the treatment of some neuropsychiatric disorders.
G protein-coupled receptors; adenosine; dopamine; glutamate; receptor oligomerization
Chronic exposure to manganese (Mn) can cause manganism, a neurodegenerative disorder similar to Parkinson's disease. The toxicity of Mn includes impairment of astrocytic glutamate transporters. 17β-Estradiol (E2) has been shown to be neuroprotective in various neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, and some selective estrogen receptor modulators, including tamoxifen (TX), also possess neuroprotective properties. We have tested our hypothesis that E2 and TX reverse Mn-induced glutamate transporter impairment in astrocytes. The results established that E2 and TX increased glutamate transporter function and reversed Mn-induced glutamate uptake inhibition, primarily via the up-regulation of glutamate/aspartate transporter (GLAST). E2 and TX also increased astrocytic GLAST mRNA levels and attenuated the Mn-induced inhibition of GLAST mRNA expression. In addition, E2 and TX effectively increased the expression of transforming growth factor β1, a potential modulator of the stimulatory effects of E2/TX on glutamate transporter function. This effect was mediated by the activation of MAPK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathways. These novel findings suggest, for the first time, that E2 and TX enhance astrocytic glutamate transporter expression via increased transforming growth factor β1 expression. Furthermore, the present study is the first to show that both E2 and TX effectively reverse Mn-induced glutamate transport inhibition by restoring its expression and activity, thus offering a potential therapeutic modality in neurodegenerative disorders characterized by altered glutamate homeostasis.
17β-estradiol; astrocytes; astroglial glutamate transporters; glutamate transporters; tamoxifen; transforming growth factor-β1
The vertebrate post-synaptic density (PSD) is a region of high molecular complexity in which dynamic protein interactions modulate receptor localization and synaptic function. Members of the membrane-associated guanylate kinase (MAGUK) family of proteins represent a major structural and functional component of the vertebrate PSD. In order to investigate the expression and significance of orthologous PSD components associated with the Aplysia sensory neuron-motor neuron synapse, we have cloned an Aplysia Dlg-MAGUK protein, which we identify as Aplysia synapse associated protein (ApSAP). As revealed by western blot, RT-PCR, and immunocytochemical analyses, ApSAP is predominantly expressed in the CNS and is located in both sensory neuron and motor neurons. The overall amino acid sequence of ApSAP is 55– 61% identical to Drosophila Dlg and mammalian Dlg-MAGUK proteins, but is more highly conserved within L27, PDZ, SH3, and guanylate kinase domains. Because these conserved domains mediate salient interactions with receptors and other PSD components of the vertebrate synapse, we performed a series of GST pull-down assays using recombinant C-terminal tail proteins from various Aplysia receptors and channels containing C-terminal PDZ binding sequences. We have found that ApSAP selectively binds to an Aplysia Shaker-type channel AKv1.1, but not to (i) NMDA receptor subunit AcNR1-1, (ii) potassium channel AKv5.1, (iii) receptor tyrosine kinase ApTrkl, (iv) glutamate receptor ApGluR1/4, (v) glutamate receptor ApGluR2/3, or (vi) glutamate receptor ApGluR7. These findings provide preliminary information regarding the expression and interactions of Dlg-MAGUK proteins of the Aplysia CNS, and will inform questions aimed at a functional analysis of how interactions in a protein network such as the PSD may regulate synaptic strength.
Aplysia; Aplysia synapse associated protein; membrane-associated guanylate kinase; post-synaptic density; potassium channel
Prion protein, PrPC, is a glycoprotein that is expressed on the cell surface. The current study examines the role of PrPC in early human embryogenesis using human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and tetracycline-regulated lentiviral vectors that upregulate or suppresses PrPC expression. Here, we show that expression of PrPC in pluripotent hESCs cultured under self-renewal conditions induced cell differentiation toward lineages of three germ layers. Silencing of PrPC in hESCs undergoing spontaneous differentiation altered the dynamics of the cell cycle and changed the balance between the lineages of the three germ layers, where differentiation toward ectodermal lineages was suppressed. Moreover, overexpression of PrPC in hESCs undergoing spontaneous differentiation inhibited differentiation toward lineages of all three germ layers and helped to preserve high proliferation activity. These results illustrate that PrPC is involved in key activities that dictate the status of hESCs including regulation of cell cycle dynamics, controlling the switch between self-renewal and differentiation, and determining the fate of hESCs differentiation. The current study suggests that PrPC is at the cross-roads of several signaling pathways that regulate the switch between preservation of or departure from the self-renewal state, control cell proliferation activity and define stem cell fate.
human embryonic stem cells; prion protein; self-renewal; stem cell differentiation; stem cell fate
Severe vitamin C deficiency (ascorbic acid; AA) was induced in gulo−/− mice incapable of synthesizing their own AA. A number of behavioral measures were studied before and during the deprivation period, including a scorbutic period, during which weight loss was observed in the mice. Mice were then resuscitated with AA supplements. During the scorbutic period gulo−/−mice showed decreased voluntary locomotor activity, diminished physical strength and increased preference for a highly palatable sucrose reward. These behaviors all returned to control levels following resuscitation. Altered trial times in subordinate mice in the tube test for social dominance in the AA-deprived mice persisted following resuscitation and may signify a depressive-like behavior in these mice. Biochemical analyses were undertaken following a second deprivation period. AA deficiency was accompanied by decreased blood glucose levels, oxidative damage to lipids and proteins in the cortex, and decreases in dopamine and serotonin metabolites in both the cortex and striatum. Given the reasonably high proportions of the population that do not consume sufficient AA in the diet, these data have important implications for physical and psychological function in the general population.
Vitamin C; scurvy; dopamine; serotonin; behavior; oxidative stress
Chronic administration of mood stabilizers to rats downregulates the brain arachidonic acid (AA) cascade. This downregulation may explain their efficacy against bipolar disorder (BD), in which brain AA cascade markers are elevated. The atypical antipsychotics, olanzapine (OLZ) and clozapine (CLZ), also act against BD. When given to rats, both reduce brain cyclooxygenase activity and prostaglandin E2 concentration; OLZ also reduces rat plasma unesterified and esterified AA concentrations, and AA incorporation and turnover in brain phospholipid. To test whether CLZ produces similar changes, we used our in vivo fatty acid method in rats given 10 mg/kg/day i.p. CLZ, or vehicle, for 30 days; or 1 day after CLZ washout. [1-14C]AA was infused intravenously for 5 min, arterial plasma was collected and microwaved brain was analyzed. CLZ increased incorporation coefficients
ki∗ and rates Jin,i of plasma unesterified AA into brain phospholipids i, while decreasing plasma unesterified but not esterified AA. These effects disappeared after washout. Thus, CLZ and OLZ similarly downregulated kinetics and cyclooxygenase expression of the brain AA cascade, likely by reducing plasma unesterified AA availability. Atypical antipsychotics and mood stabilizers may be therapeutic in BD by downregulating, indirectly or directly respectively, the elevated brain AA cascade of that disease.
clozapine; antipsychotic; arachidonic acid; phospholipid; incorporation; bipolar disorder; plasma; brain
Oxidative stress after stroke is associated with the inflammatory system activation in the brain. The complement cascade, especially the degradation products of complement component 3, is a key inflammatory mediator of cerebral ischemia. We have shown that proinflammatory complement component 3 is increased by oxidative stress after ischemic stroke in mice using DNA array. In this study, we investigated whether up-regulation of complement component 3 is directly related to oxidative stress after transient focal cerebral ischemia in mice and oxygen-glucose deprivation in brain cells. Persistent up-regulation of complement component 3 expression was reduced in copper/zinc-superoxide dismutase transgenic mice, and manganese-superoxide dismutase knockout mice showed highly increased complement component 3 levels after transient focal cerebral ischemia. Antioxidant N-tert-butyl-α-phenylnitrone treatment suppressed complement component 3 expression after transient focal cerebral ischemia. Accumulation of complement component 3 in neurons and microglia was decreased by N-tert-butyl-α-phenylnitrone, which reduced infarct volume and impaired neurological deficiency after cerebral ischemia and reperfusion in mice. Small interfering RNA specific for complement component 3 transfection showed a significant increase in brain cells viability after oxygen-glucose deprivation. Our study suggests that the neuroprotective effect of antioxidants through complement component 3 suppression is a new strategy for potential therapeutic approaches in stroke.
antioxidant; complement component 3; focal cerebral ischemia; oxidative stress
Myelin proteolipid protein gene (Plp1) expression is temporally regulated in brain, which peaks during the active myelination period of CNS development. Previous studies with Plp1-lacZ transgenic mice demonstrated that (mouse) Plp1 intron 1 DNA is required for high levels of expression in oligodendrocytes. Deletion-transfection analysis revealed the intron contains a single positive regulatory element operative in the N20.1 oligodendroglial cell line, which was named ASE (antisilencer/enhancer) based on its functional properties in these cells. To investigate the role of the ASE in vivo, the element was deleted from the native gene in mouse using a Cre/lox strategy. While removal of the ASE from Plp1-lacZ constructs profoundly decreased expression in transfected oligodendroglial cell lines (N20.1 and Oli-neu), the element was dispensable to achieve normal levels of Plp1 gene expression in mouse during development (except perhaps at postnatal day 15) and throughout the remyelination period following cuprizone-induced (acute) demyelination. Thus, it is possible that the ASE is nonfunctional in vivo, or that loss of the ASE from the native gene in mouse can be compensated for by the presence of other regulatory elements within the Plp1 gene.
cuprizone demyelination; enhancer; gene regulation; gene targeting; myelin proteolipid protein; remyelination
Distinct physiological stimuli are required for bidirectional synaptic plasticity in striatum and hippocampus, but differences in the underlying signaling mechanisms are poorly understood. We have begun to compare levels and interactions of key excitatory synaptic proteins in whole extracts and subcellular fractions isolated from micro-dissected striatum and hippocampus. Levels of multiple glutamate receptor subunits, calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII), a highly abundant serine/threonine kinase, and spinophilin, a F-actin and protein phosphatase 1 (PP1) binding protein, were significantly lower in striatal extracts, as well as in synaptic and/or extrasynaptic fractions, compared to similar hippocampal extracts/fractions. However, CaMKII interactions with spinophilin were more robust in striatum compared to hippocampus, and this enhanced association was restricted to the extrasynaptic fraction. NMDAR GluN2B subunits associate with both spinophilin and CaMKII, but spinophilin-GluN2B complexes were enriched in extrasynaptic fractions whereas CaMKII-GluN2B complexes were enriched in synaptic fractions. Notably, the association of GluN2B with both CaMKII and spinophilin was more robust in striatal extrasynaptic fractions compared to hippocampal extrasynaptic fractions. Selective differences in the assembly of synaptic and extrasynaptic signaling complexes may contribute to differential physiological regulation of excitatory transmission in striatum and hippocampus.
calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II; hippocampus; protein complexes; protein phosphatase 1; spinophilin; striatum
Hyperhomocysteinemia is an independent risk factor for both acute and chronic neurological disorders but little is known about the underlying mechanisms by which elevated homocysteine can promote neuronal cell death. We recently established a role for NMDA receptor mediated activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase-mitogen activated protein kinase (ERK-MAPK) in homocysteine-induced neuronal cell death. In the present study we examined the involvement of the stress-induced MAPK, p38 in homocysteine-induced neuronal cell death and further explored the relationship between the two MAPKs, ERK and p38, in triggering cell death. Homocysteine mediated NMDA receptor stimulation and subsequent Ca2+ influx led to a biphasic activation of p38 MAPK characterized by an initial rapid but transient activation followed by a delayed and more prolonged response. Selective inhibition of the delayed p38 MAPK activity was sufficient to attenuate homocysteine-induced neuronal cell death. Using pharmacological and RNAi approaches we further demonstrated that both the initial and delayed activation of p38 MAPK is downstream of, and dependent on activation of ERK MAPK. Our findings highlight a novel interplay between ERK and p38 MAPK in homocysteine-NMDA receptor induced neuronal cell death.
Homocysteine; ERK MAPK; p38 MAPK; NMDA; crosstalk; neuronal cell death
The brain operates through complex interactions in the flow of information and signal processing within neural networks. The “wiring” of such networks, being neuronal or glial, can physically and/or functionally go rogue in various pathological states. Neuromodulation, as a multidisciplinary venture, attempts to correct such faulty nets. In this review, selected approaches and challenges in neuromoduation are discussed. The use of water-dispersible carbon nanotubes have proven effective in modulation of neurite outgrowth in culture as well as in aiding regeneration after spinal cord injury in vivo. Studying neural circuits using computational biology and analytical engineering approaches brings to light geometrical mapping of dynamics within neural networks, much needed information for stimulation interventions in medical practice. Indeed, sophisticated desynchronization approaches used for brain stimulation have been successful in coaxing “misfiring” neuronal circuits to resume productive firing patterns in various human disorders. Devices have been developed for the real time measurement of various neurotransmitters as well as electrical activity in the human brain during electrical deep brain stimulation. Such devices can establish the dynamics of electrochemical changes in the brain during stimulation. With increasing application of nanomaterials in devices for electrical and chemical recording and stimulating in the brain, the era of cellular, and even intracellular, precision neuromodulation will soon be upon us.
Carbon nanotubes; connectivity of networks; deep brain stimulation; desynchronization; neurochemistry
PCBP1 is an expressional regulator of the mu-opioid receptor (MOR) gene. We hypothesized the existence of a PCBP1 co-regulator modifying human MOR gene expression by protein-protein interaction with PCBP1. A human brain cDNA library was screened using the two-hybrid system with PCBP1 as the bait. RACK1 protein, containing seven WD domains, was identified. PCBP1-RACK1 interaction was confirmed via in vivo validation using the two-hybrid system, and by co-immunoprecipitation with anti-PCBP1 antibody and human neuronal NMB cell lysate, endogenously expressing PCBP1 and RACK1. Further co-immunoprecipitation suggested that RACK1-PCBP1 interaction occurred in cytosol alone. Single and serial WD domain deletion analyses demonstrated that WD7 of RACK1 is the key domain interacting with PCBP1. RACK1 overexpression resulted in a dose-dependent decrease of MOR promoter activity using p357 plasmid containing human MOR promoter and luciferase reporter gene. Knock-down analysis showed that RACK1 siRNA decreased the endogenous RACK1 mRNA level in NMB, and elevated MOR mRNA level as indicated by RT-PCR. Likewise, a decrease of RACK1 resulted in an increase of MOR proteins, verified by 3H-diprenorphine binding assay. Collectively, this study reports a novel role of RACK1, physically interacting with PCBP1 and participating in the regulation of human MOR gene expression in neuronal NMB cells.
RACK1; PCBP1; physical interaction; hMOR gene; expression modulation; human NMB cells
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is characterized by accumulation of α-synuclein and degeneration of neuronal populations in cortical and subcortical regions. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been considered a potential unifying factor in the pathogenesis of the disease. Mutations in genes linked to familial forms of PD, including SNCA encoding α-synuclein and PINK1, have been shown to disrupt mitochondrial activity. We investigated the mechanisms through which mutant Pink1 might disrupt mitochondrial function in neuronal cells with α-synuclein accumulation. For this purpose, a neuronal cell model of PD was infected with virally-delivered Pink1, and was analyzed for cell survival, mitochondrial activity and calcium flux. Mitochondrial morphology was analyzed by confocal and electron microscopy. These studies showed that mutant (W437X) but not wildtype Pink1 exacerbated the alterations in mitochondrial function promoted by mutant (A53T) α-synuclein. This effect was associated with increased intracellular calcium levels. Co-expression of both mutant Pink1 and α-synuclein led to alterations in mitochondrial structure and neurite outgrowth that were partially ameliorated by treatment with Cyclosporine A, and completely restored by treatment with the mitochondrial calcium influx blocker Ruthenium Red, but not with other cellular calcium flux blockers. Our data suggest a role for mitochondrial calcium influx in the mechanisms of mitochondrial and neuronal dysfunction in PD. Moreover, these studies support an important function for Pink1 in regulating mitochondrial activity under stress conditions.
α-synuclein; Pink1; Parkinson’s; mitochondria; calcium
Homozygous APPV717F transgenic mice overexpress a human β-amyloid precursor protein (βAPP) mini-gene encoding a familial Alzheimer’s disease mutation. These mice develop Alzheimer-type neuritic β-amyloid plaques surrounded by astrocytes. S100β is an astrocyte-derived cytokine that promotes neurite growth and promotes excessive expression of βAPP. S100β overexpression in Alzheimer’s disease correlates with the proliferation of βAPP-immunoreactive neurites in β-amyloid plaques. We found age-related increases in tissue levels of both βAPP and S100β mRNA in transgenic mice. Neuronal βAPP overexpression was found in cell somas in young mice, whereas older mice showed βAPP overexpression in dystrophic neurites in plaques. These age-related changes were accompanied by progressive increases in S100β expression, as determined by S100β load (percent immunoreactive area). These increases were evident as early as 1 and 2 months of age, months before the appearance of β-amyloid deposits in these mice. Such precocious astrocyte activation and S100β overexpression are similar to our earlier findings in Down’s syndrome. Accelerated age-related overexpression of S100β may interact with age-associated overexpression of mutant βAPP in transgenic mice to promote development of Alzheimer-like neuropathological changes.
Aging; Alzheimer’s disease; APPV717F mice; Astrocytes; β-Amyloid; β-Amyloid precursor protein; Cytokines; Inflammation; PDAPP mice; S100β; Transgenic mice
Recent findings suggest that hypercholesterolemia may contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-like dementia but the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. In this study, we evaluated the cognitive performance in rodent models of hypercholesterolemia in relation to neuroinflammatory changes and amyloid precursor protein (APP) processing, the two key parameters of AD pathogenesis. Groups of normal C57BL/6 and low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR)-deficient mice were fed a high fat/cholesterol diet for an 8-week period and tested for memory in a radial arm maze. It was found that the C57BL/6 mice receiving a high fat diet were deficient in handling an increasing working memory (WM) load compared to counterparts receiving a control diet while the hypercholesterolemic LDLR−/− mice showed impaired WM regardless of diet. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed the presence of activated microglia and astrocytes in the hippocampi from high fat-fed C57BL/6 mice and LDLR−/− mice. Consistent with a neuroinflammatory response, the hyperlipidemic mice showed increased expression of cytokines/mediators including TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6, NOS2 and COX2. There was also an induced expression of the key APP processing enzyme i.e., BACE1 in both high fat/cholesterol-fed C57BL/6 and LDLR−/− mice accompanied by an increased generation of C-terminal fragments (CTFs) of APP. Although ELISA for Aβ failed to record significant changes in the non-transgenic mice, a 3-fold increase in Aβ-40 accumulation was apparent in a strain of transgenic mice expressing wt hAPP on high fat/cholesterol diet. The findings link hypercholesterolemia with cognitive dysfunction potentially mediated by increased neuroinflammation and APP processing in a non-transgenic mouse model.
Cholesterol; LDLR; working memory; neuroinflammation; APP processing; BACE1
While the brain does not utilize fatty acids as a primary energy source, recent evidence shows that intermediates of fatty acid metabolism serve as hypothalamic sensors of energy status. Increased hypothalamic malonyl-CoA, an intermediate in fatty acid synthesis, is indicative of energy surplus and leads to the suppression of food intake and increased energy expenditure. Malonyl-CoA functions as an inhibitor of CPT1, a mitochondrial outer membrane enzyme that initiates translocation of fatty acids into mitochondria for oxidation. The mammalian brain expresses a unique homologous CPT1, CPT1c, that binds malonyl-CoA tightly but does not support fatty acid oxidation in vivo, in hypothalamic explants or in heterologous cell culture systems. CPT1c KO mice under fasted or refed conditions do not exhibit an altered CNS transcriptome of genes known to be involved in fatty acid metabolism. CPT1c KO mice exhibit normal levels of metabolites and of hypothalamic malonyl-CoA and fatty acyl-CoA levels either in the fasted or refed states. However, CPT1c KO mice exhibit decreased food intake and lower body weight than WT littermates. In contrast, CPT1c KO mice gain excessive body weight and body fat when fed a high-fat diet while maintaining lower or equivalent food intake. Heterozygous mice display an intermediate phenotype. These findings provide further evidence that CPT1c plays a role in maintaining energy homeostasis, but not through altered fatty acid oxidation.
fatty acid synthase; AMPK; carnitine palmitoyl-transferase; CPT1c; acetyl-CoA carboxylase; malonyl-CoA
Apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype affects outcomes of Alzheimer’s Disease and other conditions of brain damage. Using APOE knock-in mice, we have previously shown that APOE- ε4 Targeted Replacement (TR) mice have fewer dendritic spines and reduced branching in cortical neurons. Since dendritic spines are postsynaptic sites of excitatory neurotransmission, we used APOE TR mice to examine whether APOE genotype affected the various elements of the glutamate-glutamine cycle. We found that levels of glutamine synthetase and glutamate uptake transporters were unchanged among the APOE genotypes. However, compared to APOE- ε3 TR mice, APOE-ε4 TR mice had decreased glutaminase levels (18%, p<0.05), suggesting decreased conversion of glutamine to glutamate. APOE-ε4 TR mice also had increased levels of the vesicular glutamate transporter VGLUT1 (20%, p<0.05), suggesting that APOE genotype affects presynaptic terminal composition. To address whether these changes affected normal neurotransmission, we examined the production and metabolism of glutamate and glutamine at 4–5 months and 1 year. Using high frequency 13C/1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, we found that APOE-ε4 TR mice have decreased production of glutamate and increased levels of glutamine. These factors may contribute to the increased risk of neurodegeneration associated with APOE-ε4, and also act as surrogate markers for AD risk.
APOE; Glutaminase; Glutamine; VGLUT1; pre-synaptic; 13C/1H NMR
Most of the energy in the brain comes from glucose and supports glutamatergic activity. The firing rate of cortical glutamatergic neurons, as well as cortical extracellular glutamate levels, increase with time spent awake and decline throughout non rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, raising the question whether glucose levels reflect behavioral state and sleep/wake history. Here chronic (2–3 days) electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings in the rat cerebral cortex were coupled with fixed-potential amperometry to monitor the extracellular concentration of glucose ([gluc]) on a second-by-second basis across the spontaneous sleep-wake cycle and in response to 3 hours of sleep deprivation. [Gluc] progressively increased during NREM sleep and declined during REM sleep, while during wake an early decline in [gluc] was followed by an increase 8–15 minutes after awakening. There was a significant time of day effect during the dark phase, when rats are mostly awake, with [gluc] being significantly lower during the last 3–4 hours of the night relative to the first 3–4 hours. Moreover, the duration of the early phase of [gluc] decline during wake was longer after prolonged wake than after consolidated sleep. Thus, the sleep/wake history may affect the levels of glucose available to the brain upon awakening.
glucose; in vivo amperometry; sleep; rat; cerebral cortex; EEG; slow wave activity
Cue-induced heroin seeking after prolonged withdrawal is associated with neuronal activation and altered gene expression in prefrontal cortex (PFC). However, these previous studies assessed gene expression in all neurons regardless of their activity state during heroin seeking. Using Fos as a marker of neural activity, we describe distinct molecular alterations induced in activated versus non-activated neurons during cue-induced heroin seeking after prolonged withdrawal. We trained rats to self-administer heroin for 10 days (6-h/day) and assessed cue-induced heroin seeking in extinction tests after 14 or 30 days. We used fluorescent-activated cell-sorting (FACS) to purify Fos-positive and Fos-negative neurons from PFC 90 min after extinction testing. Flow cytometry showed that Fos-immunoreactivity was increased in less than 10% of sparsely distributed PFC neurons. mRNA levels of the immediate early genes fosB, arc, egr1, and egr2, as well as npy and map2k6, were increased in Fos-positive, but not Fos-negative, neurons. In support of these findings, double-label immunohistochemistry indicated substantial co-expression of NPY- and Arc-immunoreactivity in Fos-positive neurons. Our data indicate that cue-induced relapse to heroin seeking after prolonged withdrawal induces unique molecular alterations within activated PFC neurons that are distinct from those observed in the surrounding majority of non-activated neurons.
flow cytometry; self-administration; orbitofrontal; extinction; relapse; craving
Protease-activated receptor-1 (PAR1) is an unusual G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) that is activated through proteolytic cleavage by extracellular serine proteases. While previous work has shown that inhibiting PAR1 activation is neuroprotective in models of ischemia, traumatic injury, and neurotoxicity, surprisingly little is known about PAR1’s contribution to normal brain function. Here we used PAR1 −/− mice to investigate the contribution of PAR1 function to memory formation and synaptic function. We demonstrate that PAR1 −/− mice have deficits in hippocampus-dependent memory. We also show that while PAR1 −/− mice have normal baseline synaptic transmission at Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapses, they exhibit severe deficits in N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR)-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP). Mounting evidence indicates that activation of PAR1 leads to potentiation of NMDAR-mediated responses in CA1 pyramidal cells. Taken together, this evidence and our data suggest an important role for PAR1 function in NMDAR-dependent processes subserving memory formation and synaptic plasticity.
Protease-activated receptor-1 (PAR1); hippocampus; astrocyte; learning; memory; long-term potentiation (LTP)
The prevalence of aromatic residues in the ligand binding site of the GABAA receptor, as with other cys-loop ligand-gated ion channels, is undoubtedly important for the ability of neurotransmitters to bind and trigger channel opening. Here we have examined three conserved tyrosine residues at the GABA binding pocket (β2Tyr97, β2Tyr157, and β2Tyr205), making mutations to alanine and phenylalanine. We fully characterized the effects each mutation had on receptor function using heterologous expression in HEK-293 cells, which included examining surface expression, kinetics of macroscopic currents, microscopic binding and unbinding rates for an antagonist, and microscopic binding rates for an agonist. The assembly or trafficking of GABAA receptors was disrupted when tyrosine mutants were expressed as αβ receptors, but interestingly not when expressed as αβγ receptors. Mutation of each tyrosine accelerated deactivation and slowed GABA binding. This provides strong evidence that these residues influence the binding of GABA. Qualitatively, mutation of each tyrosine has a very similar effect on receptor function; however, mutations at β2Tyr157 and β2Tyr205 are more detrimental than β2Tyr97 mutations, particularly to the GABA binding rate. Overall the results suggest that interactions involving multiple tyrosine residues are likely during the binding process.
GABAA receptor; GABA binding; surface expression; kinetics
Optic neuritis (ON), which is an acute inflammatory autoimmune demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS), often occurs in multiple sclerosis (MS). ON is an early diagnostic sign in most MS patients caused by damage to the optic nerve leading to visual dysfunction. Various features of both MS and ON can be studied following induction of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of MS, in Lewis rats. Inflammation and cell death in the optic nerve, with subsequent damage to the retinal ganglion cells in the retina, are thought to correlate with visual dysfunction. Thus, characterizing the pathophysiological changes that lead to visual dysfunction in EAE animals may help develop novel targets for therapeutic intervention. We treated EAE animals with and without the calpain inhibitor calpeptin (CP). Our studies demonstrated that the Ca2+-activated neutral protease calpain was upregulated in the optic nerve following induction of EAE at the onset of clinical signs (OCS) of the disease and these changes were attenuated following treatment with CP. These reductions correlated with decreases in inflammation (cytokines, iNOS, COX-2, NF-κB), and microgliosis (i.e. activated microglia). We observed that calpain inhibition reduced astrogliosis (reactive astroglia) and expression of aquaporin 4 (AQP4). The balance of Th1/Th2 cytokine production and also expression of the Th1-related CCR5 and CXCR3 chemokine receptors influence many pathological processes and play both causative and protective roles in neuron damage. Our data indicated that CP suppressed cytokine imbalances. Also, Bax:Bcl-2 ratio, production of tBid, PARP-1, expression and activities of calpain and caspases, and internucleosomal DNA fragmentation were attenuated after treatment with CP. Our results demonstrated that CP decreased demyelination [loss of myelin basic protein (MBP)] and axonal damage [increase in dephosphorylated neurofilament protein (de-NFP), and also promoted intracellular neuroprotective pathways in optic nerve in EAE rats. Thus, these data suggest that calpain is involved in inflammatory as well as in neurodegenerative aspects of the disease and may be a promising target for treating ON in EAE and MS.
apoptosis; calpain; chemokines; cytokines; EAE; inflammation; optic neuritis
Aluminum (Al3+) is the most prevalent metal in the earth's crust, and is a known human neurotoxicant. Al3+ has been shown to accumulate in the substantia nigra of Parkinson's disease (PD) patients, and epidemiological studies suggest correlations between Al3+ exposure and the propensity to develop both PD and the amyloid plaque-associated disorder Alzheimer's disease (AD). Although Al3+ exposures have been associated with the development of the most common neurodegenerative disorders, the molecular mechanism involved in Al3+ transport in neurons and subsequent cellular death has remained elusive. In this study we show that a brief exposure to Al3+ decreases mitochondrial membrane potential and cellular ATP levels, and confers dopamine (DA) neuron degeneration in the genetically tractable nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). Al3+ exposure also exacerbates DA neuronal death conferred by the human PD-associated protein α-synuclein. DA neurodegeneration is dependent on SMF-3, a homologue to the human divalent metal transporter (DMT-1), as a functional null mutation partially inhibits the cell death. We also show that SMF-3 is expressed in DA neurons, Al3+ exposure results in a significant decrease in protein levels, and the neurodegeneration is partially dependent on the PD-associated transcription factor Nrf2/SKN-1 and caspase Apaf1/CED-4. Furthermore we provide evidence that the deletion of SMF-3 confers Al3+-resistance due to sequestration of Al3+ into an intracellular compartment. This study describes a novel model for Al3+-induced DA neurodegeneration and provides the first molecular evidence of an animal Al3+ transporter.
C. elegans; Parkinson's disease; Nrf2/Skn-1