Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder characterized by loss of memory and cognitive function. A key neuropathological event in AD is the accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide. The production and clearance of Aβ in the brain are regulated by a large group of genes. The expression levels of these genes must be fine-tuned in the brain to keep Aβ at a balanced amount under physiological condition. Misregulation of AD genes has been found to either increase AD risk or accelerate the disease progression. In recent years, important progress has been made in uncovering the regulatory elements and transcriptional factors that guide the expression of these genes. In this review, we describe the mechanisms of transcriptional regulation for the known AD genes and the misregualtion that leads to AD susceptibility.
Alzheimer’s disease; Transcription factors; Transcriptional regulatory element; Polymorphism; Amyloid-β
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the targets of a large number of drugs currently in therapeutic use. Likewise, the glutamate ionotropic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) has been implicated in certain neurological disorders, such as neurodegeration, neuropathic pain and mood disorders, as well as psychosis and schizophrenia. Thus, there is now an important need to characterize the interactions between GPCRs and NMDARs. Indeed, these interactions can produce distinct effects, and whereas the activation of Mu-opioid receptor (MOR) increases the calcium fluxes associated to NMDARs, that of type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CNR1) antagonizes their permeation. Notably, a series of proteins interact with these receptors affecting their responses and interactions, and then emerge as novel therapeutic targets for the aforementioned pathologies.
We found that in the presence of GPCRs, the HINT1 protein influences the activity of NMDARs, whereby NMDAR activation was enhanced in CNR1+/+/HINT1-/- cortical neurons and the cannabinoid agonist WIN55,212-2 provided these cells with no protection against a NMDA insult. NMDAR activity was normalized in these cells by the lentiviral expression of HINT1, which also restored the neuroprotection mediated by cannabinoids. NMDAR activity was also enhanced in CNR1-/-/HINT1+/+ neurons, although this activity was dampened by the expression of GPCRs like the MOR, CNR1 or serotonin 1A (5HT1AR).
The HINT1 protein plays an essential role in the GPCR-NMDAR connection. In the absence of receptor activation, GPCRs collaborate with HINT1 proteins to negatively control NMDAR activity. When activated, most GPCRs release the control of HINT1 and NMDAR responsiveness is enhanced. However, cannabinoids that act through CNR1 maintain the negative control of HINT1 on NMDAR function and their protection against glutamate excitotoxic insult persists.
HINT1 protein; Cannabinoid receptor; NMDA receptor; Cortical neuron cultures; Excitotoxicity; Neuroprotection
Mammalian sires participate in infant care. We previously demonstrated that sires of a strain of nonmonogamous laboratory mice initiate parental retrieval behavior in response to olfactory and auditory signals from the dam during isolation in a new environment. This behavior is rapidly lost in the absence of such signals when the sires are caged alone. The neural circuitry and hormones that control paternal behavior are not well-understood. CD38, a membrane glycoprotein, catalyzes synthesis of cyclic ADP-ribose and facilitates oxytocin (OT) secretion due to cyclic ADP-ribose-dependent increases in cytosolic free calcium concentrations in oxytocinergic neurons in the hypothalamus. In this paper, we studied CD38 in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) and the role of OT on paternal pup retrieval behavior using CD38 knockout (CD38−/−) mice of the ICR strain.
CD38−/− sires failed to retrieve when they were reunited with their pups after isolation together with the mate dams, but not with pup, in a novel cage for 10 min. CD38−/− sires treated with a single subcutaneous injection of OT exhibited recovery in the retrieval events when caged with CD38−/− dams treated with OT. We introduced human CD38 in the NAcc of CD38−/− sires using a lentiviral infection technique and examined the effects of local expression of CD38. Pairs of knockout dams treated with OT and sires expressing CD38 in the NAcc showed more retrieval (83% of wild-type sire levels). Complete recovery of retrieval was obtained in sires with the expression of CD38 in the NAcc in combination with OT administration. Other paternal behaviors, including pup grooming, crouching and huddling, were also more common in CD38−/− sires with CD38 expression in the NAcc compared with those in CD38−/− sires without CD38 expression in the NAcc.
CD38 in the NAcc and OT are critical in paternal behavior.
Parental behavior; Paternal behavior; Maternal behavior; Retrieval behavior; Oxytocin; CD38; Nucleus accumbens
The RNA-binding protein tristetraprolin (TTP) participates in normal post-transcriptional control of cytokine and chemokine gene expression, dysregulation of which contributes to the HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of TTP has been described, including regulation by microRNA-29a. In the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) model of HIV CNS disease, control of cytokine/chemokine expression coincides with the end of acute phase infection. This control is lost during progression to disease. In this study, we assessed TTP regulation and association with cytokine regulation in the brain during SIV infection.
Quantitation of TTP expression over the course of SIV infection revealed downregulation of TTP during acute infection, maintenance of relatively low levels during asymptomatic phase, and increased expression only during late-stage CNS disease, particularly in association with severe disease. The ability of miR-29a to regulate TTP was confirmed, and evidence for additional miRNA targeters of TTP was found. However, increased miR-29a expression in brain was not found to be significantly negatively correlated with TTP. Similarly, increased TTP during late-stage disease was not associated with lower cytokine expression.
TTP expression is regulated during SIV infection of the CNS. The lack of significant negative correlation of miR-29a and TTP expression levels suggests that while miR-29a may contribute to TTP regulation, additional factors are involved. Reduced TTP expression during acute infection is consistent with increased cytokine production during this phase of infection, but the increases in TTP observed during late-stage infection were insufficient to halt runaway cytokine levels. While antisense inhibitors of the post-transcriptional targeters of TTP identified here could conceivably be used further to augment TTP regulation of cytokines, it is possible that high levels of TTP are undesirable. Additional research is needed to characterize members of the miRNA/TTP/cytokine regulatory network and identify nodes that may be best targeted therapeutically to ameliorate the effects of chronic inflammation in retrovirus-associated CNS disease.
Cytokine; RNA-binding protein; Tristetraprolin; microRNA; Human immunodeficiency virus; HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder
Intracellular Ca2+ regulates many aspects of neuronal function through Ca2+ binding to EF hand-containing Ca2+ sensors that in turn bind target proteins to regulate their function. Amongst the sensors are the neuronal calcium sensor (NCS) family of proteins that are involved in multiple neuronal signalling pathways. Each NCS protein has specific and overlapping targets and physiological functions and specificity is likely to be determined by structural features within the proteins. Common to the NCS proteins is the exposure of a hydrophobic groove, allowing target binding in the Ca2+-loaded form. Structural analysis of NCS protein complexes with target peptides has indicated common and distinct aspects of target protein interaction. Two key differences between NCS proteins are the size of the hydrophobic groove that is exposed for interaction and the role of their non-conserved C-terminal tails.
We characterised the role of NCS-1 in a temperature-dependent locomotion assay in C. elegans and identified a distinct phenotype in the ncs-1 null in which the worms do not show reduced locomotion at actually elevated temperature. Using rescue of this phenotype we showed that NCS-1 functions in AIY neurons. Structure/function analysis introducing single or double mutations within the hydrophobic groove based on information from characterised target complexes established that both N- and C-terminal pockets of the groove are functionally important and that deletion of the C-terminal tail of NCS-1 did not impair its ability to rescue.
The current work has allowed physiological assessment of suggestions from structural studies on the key structural features that underlie the interaction of NCS-1 with its target proteins. The results are consistent with the notion that full length of the hydrophobic groove is required for the regulatory interactions underlying NCS-1 function whereas the C-terminal tail of NCS-1 is not essential. This has allowed discrimination between two potential modes of interaction of NCS-1 with its targets.
Calcium signalling; Calcium binding proteins; C. elegans; NCS-1
During development both Hebbian and homeostatic mechanisms regulate synaptic efficacy, usually working in opposite directions in response to neuronal activity. Homeostatic plasticity has often been investigated by assaying changes in spontaneous synaptic transmission resulting from chronic circuit inactivation. However, effects of inactivation on evoked transmission have been less frequently reported. Importantly, contributions from the effects of circuit inactivation and reactivation on synaptic efficacy have not been individuated.
Here we show for developing hippocampal neurons in primary culture that chronic inactivation with TTX results in increased mean amplitude of miniature synaptic currents (mEPSCs), but not evoked synaptic currents (eEPSCs). However, changes in quantal properties of transmission, partially reflected in mEPSCs, accurately predicted higher-order statistical properties of eEPSCs. The classical prediction of homeostasis – increased strength of evoked transmission – was realized after explicit circuit reactivation, in the form of cells’ pairwise connection probability. In contrast, distributions of eEPSC amplitudes for control and inactivated-then-reactivated groups matched throughout.
Homeostatic up-regulation of evoked synaptic transmission in developing hippocampal neurons in primary culture requires both the inactivation and reactivation stages, leading to a net increase in functional circuit connectivity.
Homeostasis; Metaplasticity; Quantal hypothesis
αCaMKII plays central and essential roles in long-term potentiation (LTP), learning and memory. αCaMKII is activated via binding with Ca2+/CaM in response to elevated Ca2+ concentration. Furthermore, prolonged increase in Ca2+ concentration leads to the auto-phosphorylation of αCaMKII at T286, maintaining the activation of αCaMKII even after Ca2+/CaM dissociation. Importantly, the active form of αCaMKII is thought to exhibit conformational change. In order to elucidate the relationships between the interaction of αCaMKII with CaM and the conformational change of αCaMKII, we generated molecular probes (YFP-αCaMKII with CFP-CaM and YFP-αCaMKII-CFP) and performed time-lapse imaging of the interaction with CaM and the conformational change, respectively, in living cells using FRET.
The interaction of YFP-αCaMKII with CFP-CaM and the conformational change of YFP-αCaMKII-CFP were induced simultaneously in response to increased concentrations of Ca2+. Consistent with previous predictions, high levels of Ca2+ signaling maintained the conformational change of YFP-αCaMKII-CFP at the time when CFP-CaM was released from YFP-αCaMKII. These observations indicated the transfer of αCaMKII conformational change from CaM-dependence to CaM-independence. Furthermore, analyses using αCaMKII mutants showed that phosphorylation at T286 and T305/306 played positive and negative roles, respectively, during in vivo interaction with CaM and further suggested that CaM-dependent and CaM-independent conformational changed forms displays similar but distinct structures.
Importantly, these structual differences between CaM-dependent and -independent forms of αCaMKII may exhibit differential functions for αCaMKII, such as interactions with other molecules required for LTP and memory. Our molecular probes could thus be used to identify therapeutic targets for cognitive disorders that are associated with the misregulation of αCaMKII.
CaMKII; Calmodulin; Fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET); Imaging
NMDA receptors are ligand-gated ion channels with essential roles in glutamatergic synaptic transmission and plasticity in the CNS. As co-receptors for glutamate and glycine, gating of the NMDA receptor/channel pore requires agonist binding to the glycine sites, as well as to the glutamate sites, on the ligand-binding domains of the receptor. In addition to channel gating, glycine has been found to prime NMDA receptors for internalization upon subsequent stimulation of glutamate and glycine sites.
Here we address the key issue of identifying molecular determinants in the glycine-binding subunit, GluN1, that are essential for priming of NMDA receptors. We found that glycine treatment of wild-type NMDA receptors led to recruitment of the adaptor protein 2 (AP-2), and subsequent internalization after activating the receptors by NMDA plus glycine. However, with a glycine-binding mutant of GluN1 – N710R/Y711R/E712A/A714L – we found that treating with glycine did not promote recruitment of AP-2 nor were glycine-treated receptors internalized when subsequently activated with NMDA plus glycine. Likewise, GluN1 carrying a single point mutation – A714L – did not prime upon glycine treatment. Importantly, both of the mutant receptors were functional, as stimulating with NMDA plus glycine evoked inward currents.
Thus, we have identified a single amino acid in GluN1 that is critical for priming of NMDA receptors by glycine. Moreover, we have demonstrated the principle that while NMDA receptor gating and priming share a common requirement for glycine binding, the molecular constraints in GluN1 for gating are distinct from those for priming.
NMDA Receptors; Glycine; Internalization; Endocytosis; Dynamin; GluN1; GluN2
In autosomal recessive early-onset Parkinsonism (PARK2), the pathogenetic process from the loss of function of a ubiquitin ligase parkin to the death of dopamine neurons remains unclear. A dominant hypothesis attributes the neurotoxicity to accumulated substrates that are exempt from parkin-mediated degradation. Parkin substrates include two septins; SEPT4/CDCrel-2 which coaggregates with α-synuclein as Lewy bodies in Parkinson’s disease, and its closest homolog SEPT5/CDCrel-1/PNUTL1 whose overload with viral vector can rapidly eliminate dopamine neurons in rats. However, chronic effects of pan-neural overload of septins have never been examined in mammals. To address this, we established a line of transgenic mice that express the largest gene product SEPT454kDa via the prion promoter in the entire brain.
Histological examination and biochemical quantification of SEPT4-associated proteins including α-synuclein and the dopamine transporter in the nigrostriatal dopamine neurons found no significant difference between Sept4Tg/+ and wild-type littermates. Thus, the hypothetical pathogenicity by the chronic overload of SEPT4 alone, if any, is insufficient to trigger neurodegenerative process in the mouse brain. Intriguingly, however, a systematic battery of behavioral tests revealed unexpected abnormalities in Sept4Tg/+ mice that include consistent attenuation of voluntary activities in distinct behavioral paradigms and altered social behaviors.
Together, these data indicate that septin dysregulations commonly found in postmortem human brains with Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders may be responsible for a subset of behavioral abnormalities in the patients.
Parkin; Septin; Transgenic mouse; Systematic behavioral screening
Loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) is a hallmark of various retinal diseases including glaucoma, retinal ischemia, and diabetic retinopathy. N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptor (NMDAR)-mediated excitotoxicity is thought to be an important contributor to RGC death in these diseases. Native NMDARs are heterotetramers that consist of GluN1 and GluN2 subunits, and GluN2 subunits (GluN2A–D) are major determinants of the pharmacological and biophysical properties of NMDARs. All NMDAR subunits are expressed in RGCs in the retina. However, the relative contribution of the different GluN2 subunits to RGC death by excitotoxicity remains unclear.
GluN2B- and GluN2D-deficiency protected RGCs from NMDA-induced excitotoxic retinal cell death. Pharmacological inhibition of the GluN2B subunit attenuated RGC loss in glutamate aspartate transporter deficient mice.
Our data suggest that GluN2B- and GluN2D-containing NMDARs play a critical role in NMDA-induced excitotoxic retinal cell death and RGC degeneration in glutamate aspartate transporter deficient mice. Inhibition of GluN2B and GluN2D activity is a potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of several retinal diseases.
NMDA receptor; GluN2B; GluN2D; Excitotoxicity; Retina; Glaucoma; Glutamate transporter
Down’s syndrome (DS) is caused by triplication of all or part of human chromosome 21 and is characterized by a decrease in the overall size of the brain. One of the brain regions most affected is the cerebellum, in which the number of granule cells (GCs) is markedly decreased. GCs process sensory information entering the cerebellum via mossy fibres and pass it on to Purkinje cells and inhibitory interneurons. How GCs transform incoming signals depends on their input–output relationship, which is adjusted by tonically active GABAA receptor channels.
We report that in the Ts65Dn mouse model of DS, in which cerebellar volume and GC number are decreased as in DS, the tonic GABAA receptor current in GCs is smaller than in wild-type mice and is less effective in moderating input resistance and raising the minimum current required for action potential firing. We also find that tonically active GABAA receptors curb the height and broaden the width of action potentials in wild-type GCs but not in Ts65Dn GCs. Single-cell real-time quantitative PCR reveals that these electrical differences are accompanied by decreased expression of the gene encoding the GABAA receptor β3 subunit but not genes coding for some of the other GABAA receptor subunits expressed in GCs (α1, α6, β2 and δ).
Weaker moderation of excitability and action potential waveform in GCs of the Ts65Dn mouse by tonically active GABAA receptors is likely to contribute to atypical transfer of information through the cerebellum. Similar changes may occur in DS.
Down syndrome; Down’s syndrome; Cerebellum; Ts65Dn; Granule cell; GABAA receptor; Tonic inhibition; Shunting; qPCR; Single-cell RT-PCR
Pain and natural rewards such as food elicit different behavioral effects. Both pain and rewards, however, have been shown to alter synaptic activities in the nucleus accumbens (NAc), a key component of the brain reward system. Mechanisms by which external stimuli regulate plasticity at NAc synapses are largely unexplored. Medium spiny neurons (MSNs) from the NAc receive excitatory glutamatergic inputs and modulatory dopaminergic and cholinergic inputs from a variety of cortical and subcortical structures. Glutamate inputs to the NAc arise primarily from prefrontal cortex, thalamus, amygdala, and hippocampus, and different glutamate projections provide distinct synaptic and ultimately behavioral functions. The family of vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUTs 1–3) plays a key role in the uploading of glutamate into synaptic vesicles. VGLUT1-3 isoforms have distinct expression patterns in the brain, but the effects of external stimuli on their expression patterns have not been studied.
In this study, we use a sucrose self-administration paradigm for natural rewards, and spared nerve injury (SNI) model for chronic pain. We examine the levels of VGLUTs (1–3) in synaptoneurosomes of the NAc in these two behavioral models. We find that chronic pain leads to a decrease of VGLUT1, likely reflecting decreased projections from the cortex. Pain also decreases VGLUT3 levels, likely representing a decrease in projections from GABAergic, serotonergic, and/or cholinergic interneurons. In contrast, chronic consumption of sucrose increases VGLUT3 in the NAc, possibly reflecting an increase from these interneuron projections.
Our study shows that natural rewards and pain have distinct effects on the VGLUT expression pattern in the NAc, indicating that glutamate inputs to the NAc are differentially modulated by rewards and pain.
Vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUTs); Nucleus accumbens; Glutamate; Natural rewards; Pain
A long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), nuclear-enriched abundant transcript 1_2 (NEAT1_2), constitutes nuclear bodies known as “paraspeckles”. Mutations of RNA binding proteins, including TAR DNA-binding protein-43 (TDP-43) and fused in sarcoma/translocated in liposarcoma (FUS/TLS), have been described in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is a devastating motor neuron disease, which progresses rapidly to a total loss of upper and lower motor neurons, with consciousness sustained. The aim of this study was to clarify the interaction of paraspeckles with ALS-associated RNA-binding proteins, and to identify increased occurrence of paraspeckles in the nucleus of ALS spinal motor neurons.
In situ hybridization (ISH) and ultraviolet cross-linking and immunoprecipitation were carried out to investigate interactions of NEAT1_2 lncRNA with ALS-associated RNA-binding proteins, and to test if paraspeckles form in ALS spinal motor neurons. As the results, TDP-43 and FUS/TLS were enriched in paraspeckles and bound to NEAT1_2 lncRNA directly. The paraspeckles were localized apart from the Cajal bodies, which were also known to be related to RNA metabolism. Analyses of 633 human spinal motor neurons in six ALS cases showed NEAT1_2 lncRNA was upregulated during the early stage of ALS pathogenesis. In addition, localization of NEAT1_2 lncRNA was identified in detail by electron microscopic analysis combined with ISH for NEAT1_2 lncRNA. The observation indicating specific assembly of NEAT1_2 lncRNA around the interchromatin granule-associated zone in the nucleus of ALS spinal motor neurons verified characteristic paraspeckle formation.
NEAT1_2 lncRNA may act as a scaffold of RNAs and RNA binding proteins in the nuclei of ALS motor neurons, thereby modulating the functions of ALS-associated RNA-binding proteins during the early phase of ALS. These findings provide the first evidence of a direct association between paraspeckle formation and a neurodegenerative disease, and may shed light on the development of novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of ALS.
Long non-coding RNA; Paraspeckle; NEAT1_2; TDP-43; FUS/TLS; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Electron microscopy
Type B GABA receptors (GABA Rs) play a critical role in synaptic transmission. We carried out studies to determine whether neuronal cell surface expression of GABAB-Rs might be regulated by the Nogo receptor 1 (NgR1).
siRNA knock-down of NgR1 resulted in a selective increase of GABAB R1 and GABAB R2 protein without altering the expression of GABAA receptor or GAD65. The increase in GABAB receptor subunits was unaccompanied by a change in mRNA, but inhibition of mTOR by rapamycin blocked the increase in GABAB protein. NgR1 siRNA also caused an increase in G protein coupled inwardly rectifying potassium channel (GIRK1). The increase in GABAB receptor and GIRK1 channel proteins was in the plasma membrane, determined by cell surface biotinylation. In NgR1 knockout mice, the amount of GABAB R2 and GIRK1 in hippocampus-derived synaptosomes was increased.
Together these findings suggest that NgR1 mediated modulation of synaptic transmission may be accomplished, at least in part, through modulation of G protein coupled receptors and channels.
Nogo receptor; GABA B receptor; Inwardly rectifying potassium channel (GIRK1); Synapse
Silver nanoparticles (AgNPs), owing to their effective antimicrobial properties, are being widely used in a broad range of applications. These include, but are not limited to, antibacterial materials, the textile industry, cosmetics, coatings of various household appliances and medical devices. Despite their extensive use, little is known about AgNP safety and toxicity vis-à-vis human and animal health. Recent studies have drawn attention towards potential neurotoxic effects of AgNPs, however, the primary cellular and molecular targets of AgNP action/s remain to be defined.
Here we examine the effects of ultra fine scales (20 nm) of AgNPs at various concentrations (1, 5, 10 and 50 μg/ml) on primary rat cortical cell cultures. We found that AgNPs (at 1-50 μg/ml) not only inhibited neurite outgrowth and reduced cell viability of premature neurons and glial cells, but also induced degeneration of neuronal processes of mature neurons. Our immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy studies further demonstrated that AgNPs induced the loss of cytoskeleton components such as the β-tubulin and filamentous actin (F-actin). AgNPs also dramatically reduced the number of synaptic clusters of the presynaptic vesicle protein synaptophysin, and the postsynaptic receptor density protein PSD-95. Finally, AgNP exposure also resulted in mitochondria dysfunction in rat cortical cells.
Taken together, our data show that AgNPs induce toxicity in neurons, which involves degradation of cytoskeleton components, perturbations of pre- and postsynaptic proteins, and mitochondrial dysfunction leading to cell death. Our study clearly demonstrates the potential detrimental effects of AgNPs on neuronal development and physiological functions and warns against its prolific usage.
Silver nanoparticles; Rat cortical culture; Toxicity; Cytoskeleton; Synaptic machinery; Mitochondria
Inflammation in injured tissue has both repair functions and cytotoxic consequences. However, the issue of whether brain inflammation has a repair function has received little attention. Previously, we demonstrated monocyte infiltration and death of neurons and resident microglia in LPS-injected brains (Glia. 2007. 55:1577; Glia. 2008. 56:1039). Here, we found that astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, myelin, and endothelial cells disappeared in the damage core within 1–3 d and then re-appeared at 7–14 d, providing evidence of repair of the brain microenvironment. Since round Iba-1+/CD45+ monocytes infiltrated before the repair, we examined whether these cells were involved in the repair process. Analysis of mRNA expression profiles showed significant upregulation of repair/resolution-related genes, whereas proinflammatory-related genes were barely detectable at 3 d, a time when monocytes filled injury sites. Moreover, Iba-1+/CD45+ cells highly expressed phagocytic activity markers (e.g., the mannose receptors, CD68 and LAMP2), but not proinflammatory mediators (e.g., iNOS and IL1β). In addition, the distribution of round Iba-1+/CD45+ cells was spatially and temporally correlated with astrocyte recovery. We further found that monocytes in culture attracted astrocytes by releasing soluble factor(s). Together, these results suggest that brain inflammation mediated by monocytes functions to repair the microenvironment of the injured brain.
Brain inflammation; Repair; Brain microenvironment
GSK3β is involved in a wide range of physiological functions, and is presumed to act in the pathogenesis of neurological diseases, from bipolar disorder to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In contrast, the GSK3α isozyme remained largely ignored with respect to both aspects.
We generated and characterized two mouse strains with neuron-specific or with total GSK3α deficiency. Behavioral and electrophysiological analysis demonstrated the physiological importance of neuronal GSK3α, with GSK3β not compensating for impaired cognition and reduced LTP. Interestingly, the passive inhibitory avoidance task proved to modulate the phosphorylation status of both GSK3 isozymes in wild-type mice, further implying both to function in cognition. Moreover, GSK3α contributed to the neuronal architecture of the hippocampal CA1 sub-region that is most vulnerable in AD. Consequently, practically all parameters and characteristics indicated that both GSK3 isoforms were regulated independently, but that they acted on the same physiological functions in learning and memory, in mobility and in behavior.
GSK3α proved to be regulated independently from GSK3β, and to exert non-redundant physiological neurological functions in general behavior and in cognition. Moreover, GSK3α contributes to the pathological phosphorylation of protein Tau.
GSK3α knock-out; Cognition; LTP; Protein Tau; Hippocampus; Motor behavior
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, adult onset, fatal neurodegenerative disease of motor neurons. There is emerging evidence that alterations in RNA metabolism may be critical in the pathogenesis of ALS. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that are key determinants of mRNA stability. Considering that miRNAs are increasingly being recognized as having a role in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, we decided to characterize the miRNA expression profile in spinal cord (SC) tissue in sporadic ALS (sALS) and controls. Furthermore, we performed functional analysis to identify a group of dysregulated miRNAs that could be responsible for the selective suppression of low molecular weight neurofilament (NFL) mRNA observed in ALS.
Using TaqMan arrays we analyzed 664 miRNAs and found that a large number of miRNAs are differentially expressed in ventral lumbar SC in sALS compared to controls. We observed that the majority of dysregulated miRNAs are down-regulated in sALS SC tissues. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) showed that dysregulated miRNAs are linked with nervous system function and cell death. We used two prediction algorithms to develop a panel of miRNAs that have recognition elements within the human NFL mRNA 3′UTR, and then we performed functional analysis for these miRNAs. Our results demonstrate that three miRNAs that are dysregulated in sALS (miR-146a*, miR-524-5p and miR-582-3p) are capable of interacting with NFL mRNA 3′UTR in a manner that is consistent with the suppressed steady state mRNA levels observed in spinal motor neurons in ALS.
The miRNA expression profile is broadly altered in the SC in sALS. Amongst these is a group of dysregulated miRNAs directly regulate the NFL mRNA 3′UTR, suggesting a role in the selective suppression of NFL mRNA in the ALS spinal motor neuron neurofilamentous aggregate formation.
miRNA; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Neurofilament
Bergmann glia (BG) are unipolar cerebellar astrocytes. The somata of mature BG reside in the Purkinje cell layer and extend radially arranged processes to the pial surface. BG have multiple branched processes, which enwrap the synapses of Purkinje cell dendrites. They migrate from the ventricular zone and align next to the Purkinje cell layer during development. Previously, we reported that Notch1, Notch2, and RBPj genes in the BG play crucial roles in the monolayer formation and morphogenesis of BG. However, it remains to be determined which ligand activates Nocth1 and Notch 2 on BG. Delta-like 1 (Dll1) is a major ligand of Notch receptors that is expressed in the developing cerebellum.
In this study, we used human glial fibrillary acidic protein (hGFAP) promoter-driven Cre-mediated recombination to delete Dll1 in BG. Dll1-conditional mutant mice showed disorganization of Bergmann fibers, ectopic localization of BG in the molecular layer and a reduction in the number of BG.
These results suggest that Dll1 is required for the formation of the BG layer and its morphological maturation, apparently through a Notch1/2-RBPj dependent signaling pathway.
Bergmann glia; Notch signaling; Delta like 1; Conditional knockout mouse; Monolayer formation
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are regulated by several G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) as well as receptor tyrosine kinases. Serotonin (5-HT) type 7 receptors are expressed throughout the brain including the thalamus and hippocampus. Long-term (2–24 h) activation of 5-HT7 receptors promotes the expression of neuroprotective growth factor receptors, including the platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) β receptors which can protect neurons against NMDA-induced neurotoxicity.
In contrast to long-term activation of 5-HT7 receptors, acute (5 min) treatment of isolated hippocampal neurons with the 5-HT7 receptor agonist 5-carboxamidotryptamine (5-CT) enhances NMDA-evoked peak currents and this increase in peak currents is blocked by the 5-HT7 receptor antagonist, SB 269970. In hippocampal slices, acute 5-HT7 receptor activation increases NR1 NMDA receptor subunit phosphorylation and differentially alters the phosphorylation state of the NR2B and NR2A subunits. NMDA receptor subunit cell surface expression is also differentially altered by 5-HT7 receptor agonists: NR2B cell surface expression is decreased whereas NR1 and NR2A surface expression are not significantly altered.
In contrast to the negative regulatory effects of long-term activation of 5-HT7 receptors on NMDA receptor signaling, acute activation of 5-HT7 receptors promotes NMDA receptor activity. These findings highlight the potential for temporally differential regulation of NMDA receptors by the 5-HT7 receptor.
5-HT7; NMDA; Hippocampus; Isolated neurons; Phosphorylation; Trafficking
GABAA receptors are ligand-gated Cl- channels, and the intracellular Cl- concentration governs whether GABA function is excitatory or inhibitory. During early brain development, GABA undergoes functional switch from excitation to inhibition: GABA depolarizes immature neurons but hyperpolarizes mature neurons due to a developmental decrease of intracellular Cl- concentration. This GABA functional switch is mainly mediated by the up-regulation of KCC2, a potassium-chloride cotransporter that pumps Cl- outside neurons. However, the upstream factor that regulates KCC2 expression is unclear.
We report here that KCC2 is unexpectedly regulated by neuroligin-2 (NL2), a cell adhesion molecule specifically localized at GABAergic synapses. The expression of NL2 precedes that of KCC2 in early postnatal development. Upon knockdown of NL2, the expression level of KCC2 is significantly decreased, and GABA functional switch is significantly delayed during early development. Overexpression of shRNA-proof NL2 rescues both KCC2 reduction and delayed GABA functional switch induced by NL2 shRNAs. Moreover, NL2 appears to be required to maintain GABA inhibitory function even in mature neurons, because knockdown NL2 reverses GABA action to excitatory. Gramicidin-perforated patch clamp recordings confirm that NL2 directly regulates the GABA equilibrium potential. We further demonstrate that knockdown of NL2 decreases dendritic spines through down-regulating KCC2.
Our data suggest that in addition to its conventional role as a cell adhesion molecule to regulate GABAergic synaptogenesis, NL2 also regulates KCC2 to modulate GABA functional switch and even glutamatergic synapses. Therefore, NL2 may serve as a master regulator in balancing excitation and inhibition in the brain.
Neuroligin-2; KCC2; GABA; Intracellular chloride homeostasis; Synapse formation; Excitation-inhibition balance
N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) are critical for neuronal development and synaptic plasticity. Dysregulation of NMDARs is implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders. Native NMDARs are heteromultimeric protein complexes consisting of NR1 and NR2 subunits. NR2 subunits (NR2A–D) are the major determinants of the functional properties of NMDARs. Most research has focused on NR2A- and/or NR2B-containing receptors. A recent study demonstrated that NR2C- and/or NR2D-containing NMDARs are the primary targets of memantine, a drug that is widely prescribed to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Our laboratory demonstrated that memantine prevents the loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in GLAST glutamate transporter knockout mice, a model of normal tension glaucoma (NTG), suggesting that NR2D-containing receptors may be involved in RGC loss in NTG.
Here we demonstrate that NR2D deficiency attenuates RGC loss in GLAST-deficient mice. Furthermore, Dock3, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor, binds to the NR2D C-terminal domain and reduces the surface expression of NR2D, thereby protecting RGCs from excitotoxicity.
These results suggest that NR2D is involved in the degeneration of RGCs induced by excitotoxicity, and that the interaction between NR2D and Dock3 may have a neuroprotective effect. These findings raise the possibility that NR2D and Dock3 might be potential therapeutic targets for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and NTG.
NMDA receptor; NR2D; Dock3; Excitotoxicity; Glaucoma; Memantine; Glutamate transporter
Dravet syndrome is a devastating infantile-onset epilepsy syndrome with cognitive deficits and autistic traits caused by genetic alterations in SCN1A gene encoding the α-subunit of the voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.1. Disease modeling using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be a powerful tool to reproduce this syndrome’s human pathology. However, no such effort has been reported to date. We here report a cellular model for DS that utilizes patient-derived iPSCs.
We generated iPSCs from a Dravet syndrome patient with a c.4933C>T substitution in SCN1A, which is predicted to result in truncation in the fourth homologous domain of the protein (p.R1645*). Neurons derived from these iPSCs were primarily GABAergic (>50%), although glutamatergic neurons were observed as a minor population (<1%). Current-clamp analyses revealed significant impairment in action potential generation when strong depolarizing currents were injected.
Our results indicate a functional decline in Dravet neurons, especially in the GABAergic subtype, which supports previous findings in murine disease models, where loss-of-function in GABAergic inhibition appears to be a main driver in epileptogenesis. Our data indicate that patient-derived iPSCs may serve as a new and powerful research platform for genetic disorders, including the epilepsies.
Induced pluripotent stem cells; Disease modeling; Dravet syndrome; SCN1A; Nav1.1; Epileptogenesis; Action potential; Gamma aminobutyric acid
GABAergic deficit is one of the major mechanisms underlying epileptic seizures. Previous studies have mainly focused on alterations of synaptic GABAergic inhibition during epileptogenesis. Recent work suggested that tonic inhibition may also play a role in regulating epileptogenesis, but the underlying mechanism is not well understood.
We employed molecular and pharmacological tools to investigate the role of tonic inhibition during epileptogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. We overexpressed two distinct subtypes of extrasynaptic GABAA receptors, α5β3γ2 and α6β3δ receptors, in cultured hippocampal neurons. We demonstrated that overexpression of both α5β3γ2 and α6β3δ receptors enhanced tonic inhibition and reduced epileptiform activity in vitro. We then showed that injection of THIP (5 μM), a selective agonist for extrasynaptic GABAA receptors at low concentration, into rat brain also suppressed epileptiform burst activity and behavioral seizures in vivo. Mechanistically, we discovered that low concentration of THIP had no effect on GABAergic synaptic transmission and did not affect the basal level of action potentials, but significantly inhibited high frequency neuronal activity induced by epileptogenic agents.
Our studies suggest that extrasynaptic GABAA receptors play an important role in controlling hyperexcitatory activity, such as that during epileptogenesis, but a less prominent role in modulating a low level of basal activity. We propose that tonic inhibition may play a greater role under pathological conditions than in physiological conditions in terms of modulating neural network activity.
Extrasynaptic GABAA receptor, α5 subunit; δ subunit; Tonic inhibition; Epileptogenesis; Epileptiform activity; THIP; Seizure behavior
Loss of the translational repressor FMRP causes Fragile X syndrome. In healthy neurons, FMRP modulates the local translation of numerous synaptic proteins. Synthesis of these proteins is required for the maintenance and regulation of long-lasting changes in synaptic strength. In this role as a translational inhibitor, FMRP exerts profound effects on synaptic plasticity.
FMRP; Protein synthesis; Synaptic plasticity; Long-term depression; Long-term potentiation; Metabotropic glutamate receptor; Fragile X