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1.  A Targeted and Adjuvanted Nanocarrier Lowers the Effective Dose of Liposomal Amphotericin B and Enhances Adaptive Immunity in Murine Cutaneous Leishmaniasis 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(11):1914-1922.
Background. Amphotericin B (AmB), the most effective drug against leishmaniasis, has serious toxicity. As Leishmania species are obligate intracellular parasites of antigen presenting cells (APC), an immunopotentiating APC-specific AmB nanocarrier would be ideally suited to reduce the drug dosage and regimen requirements in leishmaniasis treatment. Here, we report a nanocarrier that results in effective treatment shortening of cutaneous leishmaniasis in a mouse model, while also enhancing L. major specific T-cell immune responses in the infected host.
Methods. We used a Pan-DR-binding epitope (PADRE)-derivatized-dendrimer (PDD), complexed with liposomal amphotericin B (LAmB) in an L. major mouse model and analyzed the therapeutic efficacy of low-dose PDD/LAmB vs full dose LAmB.
Results. PDD was shown to escort LAmB to APCs in vivo, enhanced the drug efficacy by 83% and drug APC targeting by 10-fold and significantly reduced parasite burden and toxicity. Fortuitously, the PDD immunopotentiating effect significantly enhanced parasite-specific T-cell responses in immunocompetent infected mice.
Conclusions. PDD reduced the effective dose and toxicity of LAmB and resulted in elicitation of strong parasite specific T-cell responses. A reduced effective therapeutic dose was achieved by selective LAmB delivery to APC, bypassing bystander cells, reducing toxicity and inducing antiparasite immunity.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jit378
PMCID: PMC3814840  PMID: 23901083
immunochemotherapy; nanocarrier; adoptive immunity; intracellular; obligate intracellular parasites; leishmaniasis; vaccine
2.  Paxillin phosphorylation counteracts proteoglycan-mediated inhibition of axon regeneration 
Experimental neurology  2013;248:157-169.
In the adult central nervous system, the tips of axons severed by injury are commonly transformed into dystrophic endballs and cease migration upon encountering a rising concentration gradient of inhibitory proteoglycans. However, intracellular signaling networks mediating endball migration failure remain largely unknown. Here we show that manipulation of protein kinase A (PKA) or its downstream adhesion component paxillin can reactivate the locomotive machinery of endballs in vitro and facilitate axon growth after injury in vivo. In dissociated cultures of adult rat dorsal root ganglion neurons, PKA is activated in endballs formed on gradients of the inhibitory proteoglycan aggrecan, and pharmacological inhibition of PKA promotes axon growth on aggrecan gradients most likely through phosphorylation of paxillin at serine 301. Remarkably, pre-formed endballs on aggrecan gradients resume forward migration in response to PKA inhibition. This resumption of endball migration is associated with increased turnover of adhesive point contacts dependent upon paxillin phosphorylation. Furthermore, expression of phosphomimetic paxillin overcomes aggrecan-mediated growth arrest of endballs, and facilitates axon growth after optic nerve crush in vivo. These results point to the importance of adhesion dynamics in restoring endball migration and suggest a potential therapeutic target for axon tract repair.
doi:10.1016/j.expneurol.2013.06.011
PMCID: PMC3773816  PMID: 23797153
Aggrecan; Axon regeneration; Dystrophic endball; Optic nerve; p21-activated kinase; Paxillin; Point contact; Protein kinase A
3.  Three-dimensional evaluation of retinal ganglion cell axon regeneration and pathfinding in whole mouse tissue after injury 
Experimental neurology  2013;247:653-662.
Injured retinal ganglion cell (RGCs) axons do not regenerate spontaneously, causing loss of vision in glaucoma and after trauma. Recent studies have identified several strategies that induce long distance regeneration in the optic nerve. Thus, a pressing question now is whether regenerating RGC axons can find their appropriate targets. Traditional methods of assessing RGC axon regeneration use histological sectioning. However, tissue sections provide fragmentary information about axonal trajectory and termination. To unequivocally evaluate regenerating RGC axons, here we apply tissue clearance and light sheet fluorescence microscopy (LSFM) to image whole optic nerve and brain without physical sectioning. In mice with PTEN/SOCS3 deletion, a condition known to promote robust regeneration, axon growth followed tortuous paths through the optic nerve, with many axons reversing course and extending toward the eye. Such aberrant growth was prevalent in the proximal region of the optic nerve where strong astroglial activation is present. In the optic chiasms of PTEN/SOCS3 deletion mice and PTEN deletion/Zymosan/cAMP mice, many axons project to the opposite optic nerve or to the ipsilateral optic tract. Following bilateral optic nerve crush, similar divergent trajectory is seen at the optic chiasm compared to unilateral crush. Centrally, axonal projection is limited predominantly to the hypothalamus. Together, we demonstrate the applicability of LSFM for comprehensive assessment of optic nerve regeneration, providing in-depth analysis of the axonal trajectory and pathfinding. Our study indicates significant axon misguidance in the optic nerve and brain, and underscores the need for investigation of axon guidance mechanisms during optic nerve regeneration in adults.
doi:10.1016/j.expneurol.2013.03.001
PMCID: PMC3726550  PMID: 23510761
PTEN; SOCS3; axon regeneration; axon growth; retinal ganglion cell; axotomy
4.  Minimum Information about a Spinal Cord Injury Experiment: A Proposed Reporting Standard for Spinal Cord Injury Experiments 
Journal of Neurotrauma  2014;31(15):1354-1361.
Abstract
The lack of reproducibility in many areas of experimental science has a number of causes, including a lack of transparency and precision in the description of experimental approaches. This has far-reaching consequences, including wasted resources and slowing of progress. Additionally, the large number of laboratories around the world publishing articles on a given topic make it difficult, if not impossible, for individual researchers to read all of the relevant literature. Consequently, centralized databases are needed to facilitate the generation of new hypotheses for testing. One strategy to improve transparency in experimental description, and to allow the development of frameworks for computer-readable knowledge repositories, is the adoption of uniform reporting standards, such as common data elements (data elements used in multiple clinical studies) and minimum information standards. This article describes a minimum information standard for spinal cord injury (SCI) experiments, its major elements, and the approaches used to develop it. Transparent reporting standards for experiments using animal models of human SCI aim to reduce inherent bias and increase experimental value.
doi:10.1089/neu.2014.3400
PMCID: PMC4120647  PMID: 24870067
axonal injury; axonal regeneration; MIASCI; spinal cord injury
5.  Evolving BioAssay Ontology (BAO): modularization, integration and applications 
Journal of Biomedical Semantics  2014;5(Suppl 1):S5.
The lack of established standards to describe and annotate biological assays and screening outcomes in the domain of drug and chemical probe discovery is a severe limitation to utilize public and proprietary drug screening data to their maximum potential. We have created the BioAssay Ontology (BAO) project (http://bioassayontology.org) to develop common reference metadata terms and definitions required for describing relevant information of low-and high-throughput drug and probe screening assays and results. The main objectives of BAO are to enable effective integration, aggregation, retrieval, and analyses of drug screening data. Since we first released BAO on the BioPortal in 2010 we have considerably expanded and enhanced BAO and we have applied the ontology in several internal and external collaborative projects, for example the BioAssay Research Database (BARD). We describe the evolution of BAO with a design that enables modeling complex assays including profile and panel assays such as those in the Library of Integrated Network-based Cellular Signatures (LINCS). One of the critical questions in evolving BAO is the following: how can we provide a way to efficiently reuse and share among various research projects specific parts of our ontologies without violating the integrity of the ontology and without creating redundancies. This paper provides a comprehensive answer to this question with a description of a methodology for ontology modularization using a layered architecture. Our modularization approach defines several distinct BAO components and separates internal from external modules and domain-level from structural components. This approach facilitates the generation/extraction of derived ontologies (or perspectives) that can suit particular use cases or software applications. We describe the evolution of BAO related to its formal structures, engineering approaches, and content to enable modeling of complex assays and integration with other ontologies and datasets.
doi:10.1186/2041-1480-5-S1-S5
PMCID: PMC4108877  PMID: 25093074
6.  Chemical Interrogation of the neuronal kinome using a primary cell-based screening assay 
ACS chemical biology  2013;8(5):10.1021/cb300584e.
A fundamental impediment to functional recovery from spinal cord injury (SCI) and traumatic brain injury is the lack of sufficient axonal regeneration in the adult central nervous system. There is thus a need to develop agents that can stimulate axon growth to re-establish severed connections. Given the critical role played by protein kinases in regulating axon growth and the potential for pharmacological intervention, small molecule protein kinase inhibitors present a promising therapeutic strategy. Here, we report a robust cell-based phenotypic assay, utilizing primary rat hippocampal neurons, for identifying small molecule kinase inhibitors that promote neurite growth. The assay is highly reliable and suitable for medium throughput screening, as indicated by its Z′-factor of 0.73. A focused structurally diverse library of protein kinase inhibitors was screened, revealing several compound groups with the ability to strongly and consistently promote neurite growth. The best performing bioassay hit robustly and consistently promoted axon growth in a postnatal cortical slice culture assay. This study can serve as a jumping-off point for structure activity relationship (SAR) and other drug discovery approaches towards the development of drugs for treating SCI and related neurological pathologies.
doi:10.1021/cb300584e
PMCID: PMC3657311  PMID: 23480631
7.  L1cam Is Crucial for Cell Locomotion and Terminal Translocation of the Soma in Radial Migration during Murine Corticogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86186.
L1cam (L1) is a cell adhesion molecule associated with a spectrum of human neurological diseases, the most well-known being X-linked hydrocephalus. Although we recently demonstrated that L1 plays an important role in neuronal migration during cortical histogenesis, the mechanisms of delayed migration have still not been clarified. In this study, we found that cell locomotion in the intermediate zone and terminal translocation in the primitive cortical zone (PCZ) were affected by L1-knockdown (L1-KD). Time-lapse analyses revealed that L1-KD neurons produced by in utero electroporation of shRNA targeting L1 (L1-shRNAs) molecules showed decreased locomotion velocity in the intermediate zone, compared with control neurons. Furthermore, L1-KD neurons showed longer and more undulated leading processes during translocation through the primitive cortical zone. The curvature index, a quantitative index for curvilinearity, as well as the length of the leading process, were increased, whereas the somal movement was decreased in L1-KD neurons during terminal translocation in the PCZ. These results suggest that L1 has a role in radial migration of cortical neurons.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086186
PMCID: PMC3904877  PMID: 24489698
8.  Astrocytes Modulate the Polarization of CD4+ T Cells to Th1 Cells 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86257.
T-cell characteristics are dynamic and influenced by multiple factors. To test whether cells and the environment in the central nervous system (CNS) can influence T-cells, we tested if culturing mouse CD4+ T-cells on mouse primary astrocytes, compared with standard feeder cells, modified T-cell polarization to Th1 and Treg subtypes. Astrocytes supported the production of Th1 cells and Tregs, which was diminished by inflammatory activation of astrocytes, and glutamate accumulation that may result from impaired glutamate uptake by astrocytes strongly promoted Th1 production. These results demonstrate that astrocytes and the environment in the CNS have the capacity to regulate T-cell characteristics.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086257
PMCID: PMC3904883  PMID: 24489707
10.  MicroRNAs and neuronal development 
Summary
The importance of the involvement of non-protein coding RNAs in biological processes has become evident in recent years along with the identification of the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms that allow them to exert their roles. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a novel class of small non-coding RNA that regulates messenger RNA abundance. The capacity of each miRNA to target several transcripts suggests an ability to build a complex regulatory network for fine tuning gene expression; a mechanism by which they are thought to regulate cell fate, proliferation and identity. The brain expresses more distinct miRNAs than any other tissue in vertebrates and it presents an impressive variety of cell types, including many different classes of neurons. Here we review more than 10 years of miRNA research, and discuss the most important findings that have established miRNAs as key regulators of neuronal development.
doi:10.1016/j.siny.2012.07.008
PMCID: PMC3490020  PMID: 22906916
Development; Differentiation; Gene expression; MicroRNA; Neurons
11.  Isoform diversity and its importance for axon regeneration 
Neuropathology  2011;32(4):420-431.
Axon regeneration is a fundamental problem facing neuroscientists and clinicians. Failure of axon regeneration is caused by both extrinsic and intrinsic mechanisms. New techniques to exam gene expression such as Next Generation Sequencing of the Transcriptome (RNA-Seq) drastically increase our knowledge of both gene expression complexity (RNA isoforms) and gene expression regulation. By utilizing RNA-Seq, gene expression can now be defined at the level of isoforms, an essential step for understanding the mechanisms governing cell identity, growth and ultimately cellular responses to injury and disease.
doi:10.1111/j.1440-1789.2011.01280.x
PMCID: PMC3309121  PMID: 22151581
RNA-Seq; axon; regeneration; promoter; isoform; variant; untranslated region; coding DNA sequence; transcription start site
12.  Neuronal Hypoxia Induces Hsp40-Mediated Nuclear Import of Type 3 Deiodinase As an Adaptive Mechanism to Reduce Cellular Metabolism 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2012;32(25):8491-8500.
In neurons, the type 3 deiodinase (D3) inactivates thyroid hormone and reduces oxygen consumption, thus creating a state of cell-specific hypothyroidism. Here we show that hypoxia leads to nuclear import of D3 in neurons, without which thyroid hormone signaling and metabolism cannot be reduced. After unilateral hypoxia in the rat brain, D3 protein level is increased predominantly in the nucleus of the neurons in the pyramidal and granular ipsilateral layers, as well as in the hilus of the dentate gyrus of the hippocampal formation. In hippocampal neurons in culture as well as in a human neuroblastoma cell line (SK-N-AS), a 24 h hypoxia period redirects active D3 from the endoplasmic reticulum to the nucleus via the cochaperone Hsp40 pathway. Preventing nuclear D3 import by Hsp40 knockdown resulted an almost doubling in the thyroid hormone-dependent glycolytic rate and quadrupling the transcription of thyroid hormone target gene ENPP2. In contrast, Hsp40 overexpression increased nuclear import of D3 and minimized thyroid hormone effects in cell metabolism. In conclusion, ischemia/hypoxia induces an Hsp40-mediated translocation of D3 to the nucleus, facilitating thyroid hormone inactivation proximal to the thyroid hormone receptors. This adaptation decreases thyroid hormone signaling and may function to reduce ischemia-induced hypoxic brain damage.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6514-11.2012
PMCID: PMC3752066  PMID: 22723689
13.  Formalization, Annotation and Analysis of Diverse Drug and Probe Screening Assay Datasets Using the BioAssay Ontology (BAO) 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49198.
Huge amounts of high-throughput screening (HTS) data for probe and drug development projects are being generated in the pharmaceutical industry and more recently in the public sector. The resulting experimental datasets are increasingly being disseminated via publically accessible repositories. However, existing repositories lack sufficient metadata to describe the experiments and are often difficult to navigate by non-experts. The lack of standardized descriptions and semantics of biological assays and screening results hinder targeted data retrieval, integration, aggregation, and analyses across different HTS datasets, for example to infer mechanisms of action of small molecule perturbagens. To address these limitations, we created the BioAssay Ontology (BAO). BAO has been developed with a focus on data integration and analysis enabling the classification of assays and screening results by concepts that relate to format, assay design, technology, target, and endpoint. Previously, we reported on the higher-level design of BAO and on the semantic querying capabilities offered by the ontology-indexed triple store of HTS data. Here, we report on our detailed design, annotation pipeline, substantially enlarged annotation knowledgebase, and analysis results. We used BAO to annotate assays from the largest public HTS data repository, PubChem, and demonstrate its utility to categorize and analyze diverse HTS results from numerous experiments. BAO is publically available from the NCBO BioPortal at http://bioportal.bioontology.org/ontologies/1533. BAO provides controlled terminology and uniform scope to report probe and drug discovery screening assays and results. BAO leverages description logic to formalize the domain knowledge and facilitate the semantic integration with diverse other resources. As a consequence, BAO offers the potential to infer new knowledge from a corpus of assay results, for example molecular mechanisms of action of perturbagens.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049198
PMCID: PMC3498356  PMID: 23155465
14.  Challenges in Small Screening Laboratories: SaaS to the rescue 
The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, part of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, includes a laboratory devoted to High Content Analysis (HCA) of neurons. The goal of the laboratory is to uncover signalling pathways, genes, compounds, or drugs that can be used to promote nerve growth. HCA permits the quantification of neuronal morphology, including the lengths and numbers of axons. HCA screening of various libraries on primary neurons requires a team-based approach, a variety of process steps and complex manipulations of cells and libraries to obtain meaningful results. HCA itself produces vast amounts of information including images, well-based data and cell-based phenotypic measures. Managing experimental workflow and library data, along with the extensive amount of experimental results is challenging.
For academic laboratories generating large data sets from experiments using thousands of perturbagens, a laboratory information management system (LIMS) is the data tracking solution of choice. With both productivity and efficiency as driving rationales, the Miami Project has equipped its HCA laboratory with a Software As A Service (SAAS) LIMS to ensure the quality of its experiments and workflows. The article discusses this application in detail, and how the system was selected and integrated into the laboratory. The advantages of SaaS are described.
PMCID: PMC3289069  PMID: 21631415
Good laboratory practice; High Content Analysis; Laboratory Information Management System; On demand; Software as a Service; Spinal cord injury
15.  In vivo Electroporation and Non-protein Based Screening Assays to Identify Antibodies Against Native Protein Conformations 
Hybridoma  2011;30(5):409-418.
In vivo electroporation has become a gold standard method for DNA immunization. The method assists the DNA entry into cells, results in expression and the display of the native form of antigens to professional cells of the immune system, uses both arms of immune system, has a built-in adjuvant system, is relatively safe, and is cost-effective. However, there are challenges for achieving an optimized reproducible process for eliciting strong humoral responses and for the screening of specific immune responses, in particular, when the aim is to mount humoral responses or to generate monoclonal antibodies via hybridoma technology. Production of monoclonal antibodies demands generation of high numbers of primed B and CD4 T helper cells in lymphoid organs needed for the fusion that traditionally is achieved by a final intravenous antigen injection. The purified antigen is also needed for screening of hundreds of clones obtained upon fusion of splenocytes. Such challenges make DNA vaccination dependent on purified proteins. Here, we have optimized methods for in vivo electroporation, production, and use of cells expressing the antigen and an in-cell Western screening method. These methods resulted in (1) reproducibly mounting robust humoral responses against antigens with different cell localizations, and (2) the ability to screen for antigen eliminating a need for protein/antigen purification. This process includes optimized parameters for in vivo electroporation, the use of transfected cells for final boost, and mild fixation/permeabilization of cells for screening. Using this process, upon two vaccinations via in vivo electroporation (and final boost), monoclonal antibodies against nucleus and cytoplasmic and transmembrane proteins were achieved.
doi:10.1089/hyb.2010.0120
PMCID: PMC3241927  PMID: 22008067
16.  Peripheral Nervous System Genes Expressed in Central Neurons Induce Growth on Inhibitory Substrates 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38101.
Trauma to the spinal cord and brain can result in irreparable loss of function. This failure of recovery is in part due to inhibition of axon regeneration by myelin and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs). Peripheral nervous system (PNS) neurons exhibit increased regenerative ability compared to central nervous system neurons, even in the presence of inhibitory environments. Previously, we identified over a thousand genes differentially expressed in PNS neurons relative to CNS neurons. These genes represent intrinsic differences that may account for the PNS’s enhanced regenerative ability. Cerebellar neurons were transfected with cDNAs for each of these PNS genes to assess their ability to enhance neurite growth on inhibitory (CSPG) or permissive (laminin) substrates. Using high content analysis, we evaluated the phenotypic profile of each neuron to extract meaningful data for over 1100 genes. Several known growth associated proteins potentiated neurite growth on laminin. Most interestingly, novel genes were identified that promoted neurite growth on CSPGs (GPX3, EIF2B5, RBMX). Bioinformatic approaches also uncovered a number of novel gene families that altered neurite growth of CNS neurons.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038101
PMCID: PMC3368946  PMID: 22701605
17.  Microtubule stabilization reduces scarring and enables axon regeneration after spinal cord injury 
Science (New York, N.y.)  2011;331(6019):928-931.
Hypertrophic scarring and poor intrinsic axon growth capacity constitute major obstacles for spinal cord repair. These processes are tightly regulated by microtubule dynamics. We found that moderate microtubule stabilization decreased scar formation after spinal cord injury (SCI) in rodents via various cellular mechanisms, including dampening of TFG-β signalling. It prevented the accumulation of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) and rendered the lesion site permissive for axon regeneration of growth competent sensory neurons. Additionally, microtubule stabilization promoted growth of CNS axons of the Raphe-spinal tract and led to functional improvement. Thus, microtubule stabilization reduces fibrotic scarring and enhances the capacity of axons to grow. Manipulation of microtubules may offer the basis for a multi-targeted therapy after SCI.
doi:10.1126/science.1201148
PMCID: PMC3330754  PMID: 21273450
18.  BioAssay Ontology Annotations Facilitate Cross-Analysis of Diverse High-throughput Screening Data Sets 
Journal of biomolecular screening  2011;16(4):415-426.
High-throughput screening data repositories, such as PubChem, represent valuable resources for the development of small molecule chemical probes and can serve as entry points for drug discovery programs. While the loose data format offered by PubChem allows for great flexibility, important annotations, such as the assay format and technologies employed, are not explicitly indexed. We have previously developed a BioAssay Ontology (BAO) and curated over 350 assays with standardized BAO terms. Here we describe the use of BAO annotations to analyze a large set of assays that employ luciferase- and β-lactamase-based technologies. We identified promiscuous chemotypes pertaining to different sub-categories of assays and specific mechanisms by which these chemotypes interfere in reporter gene assays. Our results show that the data in PubChem can be used to identify promiscuous compounds that interfere non-specifically with particular technologies. Furthermore, we show that BAO is a valuable toolset for the identification of related assays and for the systematic generation of insights that are beyond the scope of individual assays or screening campaigns.
doi:10.1177/1087057111400191
PMCID: PMC3167204  PMID: 21471461
compound promiscuity; assay ontology; reporter gene assays; high-throughput screening data analysis; cheminformatics
19.  Isoform Diversity and Regulation in Peripheral and Central Neurons Revealed through RNA-Seq 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30417.
To fully understand cell type identity and function in the nervous system there is a need to understand neuronal gene expression at the level of isoform diversity. Here we applied Next Generation Sequencing of the transcriptome (RNA-Seq) to purified sensory neurons and cerebellar granular neurons (CGNs) grown on an axonal growth permissive substrate. The goal of the analysis was to uncover neuronal type specific isoforms as a prelude to understanding patterns of gene expression underlying their intrinsic growth abilities. Global gene expression patterns were comparable to those found for other cell types, in that a vast majority of genes were expressed at low abundance. Nearly 18% of gene loci produced more than one transcript. More than 8000 isoforms were differentially expressed, either to different degrees in different neuronal types or uniquely expressed in one or the other. Sensory neurons expressed a larger number of genes and gene isoforms than did CGNs. To begin to understand the mechanisms responsible for the differential gene/isoform expression we identified transcription factor binding sites present specifically in the upstream genomic sequences of differentially expressed isoforms, and analyzed the 3′ untranslated regions (3′ UTRs) for microRNA (miRNA) target sites. Our analysis defines isoform diversity for two neuronal types with diverse axon growth capabilities and begins to elucidate the complex transcriptional landscape in two neuronal populations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030417
PMCID: PMC3260295  PMID: 22272348
20.  Transcriptional Profiling of Intrinsic PNS Factors in the Postnatal Mouse 
Neurons in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) display a higher capacity to regenerate after injury than those in the central nervous system, suggesting cell specific transcriptional modules underlying axon growth and inhibition. We report a systems biology based search for PNS specific transcription factors (TFs). Messenger RNAs enriched in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons compared to cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs) were identified using subtractive hybridization and DNA microarray approaches. Network and transcription factor binding site enrichment analyses were used to further identify TFs that may be differentially active. Combining these techniques, we identified 32 TFs likely to be enriched and/or active in the PNS. Twenty-five of these TFs were then tested for an ability to promote CNS neurite outgrowth in an overexpression screen. Real-time PCR and immunohistochemical studies confirmed that one representative TF, STAT3, is intrinsic to PNS neurons, and that constitutively active STAT3 is sufficient to promote CGN neurite outgrowth.
doi:10.1016/j.mcn.2010.07.015
PMCID: PMC3003944  PMID: 20696251
Dorsal Root Ganglion; Transcription Factor; High Content Analysis; Screen; Systems Biology; Cerebellar Granule Neuron; STAT3
21.  A new in vitro model of the glial scar inhibits axon growth 
Glia  2008;56(15):1691-1709.
Astrocytes respond to central nervous system (CNS) injury with reactive astrogliosis and participate in the formation of the glial scar, an inhibitory barrier for axonal regeneration. Little is known about the injury-induced mechanisms underlying astrocyte reactivity and subsequent development of an axon-inhibitory scar. We combined two key aspects of CNS injury, mechanical trauma and co-culture with meningeal cells, to produce an in vitro model of the scar from cultures of highly differentiated astrocytes. Our model displayed widespread morphological signs of astrocyte reactivity, increases in expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), and accumulation of GFAP in astrocytic processes. Expression levels of scar-associated markers phosphacan, neurocan and tenascins were also increased. Importantly, neurite growth from various CNS neuronal populations was significantly reduced when neurons were seeded on the scar-like cultures, compared to growth on cultures of mature astrocytes. Quantification of neurite growth parameters on the scar model demonstrated significant reductions in neuronal adhesion and neurite lengths. Interestingly, neurite outgrowth of postnatal neurons was reduced to a greater extent than that of embryonic neurons, and outgrowth inhibition varied among neuronal populations. Scar-like reactive sites and neurite-inhibitory patches were found throughout these cultures, creating a patchwork of growth-inhibitory areas mimicking a CNS injury site. Thus, our model showed relevant aspects of scar formation and produced widespread inhibition of axonal regeneration; it should be useful both for examining mechanisms underlying scar formation and to assess various treatments for their potential to improve regeneration after CNS injury.
doi:10.1002/glia.20721
PMCID: PMC3161731  PMID: 18618667
reactive astrocyte; astrogliosis; neurite outgrowth; inhibition; proteoglycans; tenascin; CNS injury; spinal cord injury; meningeal cells; fibroblast
22.  The role of the cytoplasmic domain of the L1 cell adhesion molecule in brain development 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2010;518(7):1113-1132.
Mutations in the human L1CAM gene cause X-linked Hydrocephalus and MASA syndrome. In vitro studies have shown the L1 cytoplasmic domain (L1CD) is involved in L1 trafficking, neurite branching, signaling, and interactions with the cytoskeleton. L1cam knock-out (L1KO) mice have hydrocephalus, a small cerebellum, hyperfasciculation of corticothalamic tracts and abnormal peripheral nerves. To explore the function of the L1CD, we made three new mice lines in which different parts of the L1CD have been altered. In all mutant lines L1 protein is expressed and transported into the axon. Interestingly, these new L1CD mutant lines display normal brain morphology. However, the expression of L1 protein in the adult is dramatically reduced in the two L1CD mutant lines that lack the ankyrin-binding region and they show defects in motor function. Therefore, the L1CD is not responsible for the major defects observed in L1KO mice, yet it is required for continued L1 protein expression and motor function in the adult.
doi:10.1002/cne.22267
PMCID: PMC3158433  PMID: 20127821
hydrocephalus; axon guidance; fasciculation; myelin; L1-CAM
23.  BioAssay Ontology (BAO): a semantic description of bioassays and high-throughput screening results 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:257.
Background
High-throughput screening (HTS) is one of the main strategies to identify novel entry points for the development of small molecule chemical probes and drugs and is now commonly accessible to public sector research. Large amounts of data generated in HTS campaigns are submitted to public repositories such as PubChem, which is growing at an exponential rate. The diversity and quantity of available HTS assays and screening results pose enormous challenges to organizing, standardizing, integrating, and analyzing the datasets and thus to maximize the scientific and ultimately the public health impact of the huge investments made to implement public sector HTS capabilities. Novel approaches to organize, standardize and access HTS data are required to address these challenges.
Results
We developed the first ontology to describe HTS experiments and screening results using expressive description logic. The BioAssay Ontology (BAO) serves as a foundation for the standardization of HTS assays and data and as a semantic knowledge model. In this paper we show important examples of formalizing HTS domain knowledge and we point out the advantages of this approach. The ontology is available online at the NCBO bioportal http://bioportal.bioontology.org/ontologies/44531.
Conclusions
After a large manual curation effort, we loaded BAO-mapped data triples into a RDF database store and used a reasoner in several case studies to demonstrate the benefits of formalized domain knowledge representation in BAO. The examples illustrate semantic querying capabilities where BAO enables the retrieval of inferred search results that are relevant to a given query, but are not explicitly defined. BAO thus opens new functionality for annotating, querying, and analyzing HTS datasets and the potential for discovering new knowledge by means of inference.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-257
PMCID: PMC3149580  PMID: 21702939
24.  High Content Screening of Cortical Neurons Identifies Novel Regulators of Axon Growth 
Neurons in the central nervous system lose their intrinsic capacity for axon regeneration as they mature, and it is widely hypothesized that changes in gene expression are responsible. Testing this hypothesis and identifying the relevant genes has been challenging because hundreds to thousands of genes are developmentally regulated in CNS neurons, but only a small subset are likely relevant to axon growth. Here we used automated high content analysis (HCA) methods to functionally test 743 plasmids encoding developmentally regulated genes in neurite outgrowth assays using postnatal cortical neurons. We identified both growth inhibitors (Ephexin, Aldolase A, Solute Carrier 2A3, and Chimerin), and growth enhancers (Doublecortin, Doublecortin-like, Kruppel-like Factor 6, and CaM-Kinase II gamma), some of which regulate established growth mechanisms like microtubule dynamics and small GTPase signaling. Interestingly, with only one exception the growth-suppressing genes were developmentally upregulated, and the growth-enhancing genes downregulated. These data provide important support for the hypothesis that developmental changes in gene expression control neurite outgrowth, and identify potential new gene targets to promote neurite outgrowth.
doi:10.1016/j.mcn.2010.02.002
PMCID: PMC2890283  PMID: 20159039
25.  A modifier locus on chromosome 5 contributes to L1 cell adhesion molecule X-linked hydrocephalus in mice 
Neurogenetics  2009;11(1):53-71.
Humans with L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM) mutations exhibit X-linked hydrocephalus, as well as other severe neurological disorders. L1-6D mutant mice, which are homozygous for a deletion that removes the sixth immunoglobulin-like domain of L1cam, seldom display hydrocephalus on the 129/Sv background. However, the same L1-6D mutation produces severe hydrocephalus on the C57BL/6J background. To begin to understand how L1cam deficiencies result in hydrocephalus and to identify modifier loci that contribute to X-linked hydrocephalus by genetically interacting with L1cam, we conducted a genome-wide scan on F2 L1-6D mice, bred from L1-6D 129S2/SvPasCrlf and C57BL/6J mice. Linkage studies, utilizing chi-square tests and quantitative trait loci mapping techniques, were performed. Candidate modifier loci were further investigated in an extension study. Linkage was confirmed for a locus on chromosome 5, which we named L1cam hydrocephalus modifier 1 (L1hydro1), p = 4.04 × 10−11.
doi:10.1007/s10048-009-0203-3
PMCID: PMC2863031  PMID: 19565280
L1cam; Hydrocephalus; Modifier; Linkage analysis; QTL

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