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1.  Regulation of Th1 cells and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) by glycogen synthase kinase-3 
Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is a rodent model of multiple sclerosis (MS), a debilitating autoimmune disease of the central nervous system, for which only limited therapeutic interventions are available. Since MS is mediated in part by autoreactive T cells, particularly Th17 and Th1 cells, in the present study, we tested if inhibitors of glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3), previously reported to reduce Th17 cell generation, also alter Th1 cell production or ameliorate EAE. GSK3 inhibitors were found to impede the production of Th1 cells by reducing STAT1 activation. Molecularly reducing the expression of either of the two GSK3 isoforms demonstrated that Th17 cell production was sensitive to reduced levels of GSK3β, and Th1 cell production was inhibited in GSK3α-deficient cells. Administration of the selective GSK3 inhibitors TDZD-8, VP2.51, VP0.7, or L803-mts, significantly reduced the clinical symptoms of MOG35-55-induced EAE in mice, nearly eliminating the chronic progressive phase, and reduced the number of Th17 and Th1 cells in the spinal cord. Administration of TDZD-8 or L803-mts after the initial disease episode ameliorated clinical symptoms in a relapsing/remitting model of PLP139-151-induced EAE. Furthermore, deletion of GSK3β specifically in T cells was sufficient to ameliorate MOG35-55-induced EAE. These results demonstrate isoform-selective effects of GSK3 on T cell generation, therapeutic effects of GSK3 inhibitors in EAE, and that GSK3 inhibition in T cells is sufficient to reduce the severity of EAE, suggesting that GSK3 may be a feasible target for developing new therapeutic interventions for MS.
PMCID: PMC3660233  PMID: 23606540
2.  Inactivation of the enzyme GSK3α by the kinase IKKi promotes AKT-mTOR signaling pathway that mediates Interleukin-1-induced Th17 cell maintenance 
Immunity  2012;37(5):800-812.
Interleukin-1 (IL-1)-induced activation of the mTOR kinase pathway has major influences on Th17 cell survival, proliferation and effector function. Using biochemical and genetic approaches, the kinases IKKi and GSK3α were identified as the critical intermediate signaling components for IL-1-induced AKT activation, which in turn activated mTOR. Although insulin-induced AKT activation is known to phosphorylate and inactivate GSK3α and GSK3β, we found GSK3α, but not GSK3β formed a constitutive complex to phosphorylate and suppress AKT activation, showing that a reverse action from GSK to AKT can take place. Upon IL-1 stimulation, IKKi was activated to mediate GSK3α phosphorylation at S21, thereby inactivating GSK3α to promote IL-1-induced AKT-mTOR activation. Thus, IKKi has a critical role in Th17 cell maintenance and/or proliferation through the GSK-AKT-mTOR pathway, implicating the potential of IKKi as a therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3512562  PMID: 23142783
3.  Crosstalk between metabolic and neuropsychiatric disorders 
Evidence supporting the concurrence of metabolic disturbances (e.g. insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity) and neuropsychiatric disorders has been demonstrated in both human and animal studies, suggesting the possibility that they have shared pathophysiological mechanisms. During the past decade, our understanding for the role of insulin in both normal and abnormal central nervous system (CNS) processes has become increasingly refined. Evidence indicates that insulin is a pleiotropic peptide, critical to neurotrophism, neuroplasticity, and neuromodulation. Moreover, the role of insulin underscores its importance in the development of several neuropsychiatric disorders, including, but not limited to, mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis and progression towards diabetes, obesity, and neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease. This review focuses on the insulin-mediated effects on normal and abnormal brain function and discusses why targeting insulin-related pathways in the brain may emerge as a new approach for refining treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.
PMCID: PMC3388805  PMID: 22802875
5.  Assessment of Social Interaction Behaviors 
Social interactions are a fundamental and adaptive component of the biology of numerous species. Social recognition is critical for the structure and stability of the networks and relationships that define societies. For animals, such as mice, recognition of conspecifics may be important for maintaining social hierarchy and for mate choice 1.
A variety of neuropsychiatric disorders are characterized by disruptions in social behavior and social recognition, including depression, autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and schizophrenia. Studies of humans as well as animal models (e.g., Drosophila melanogaster, Caenorhabditis elegans, Mus musculus, Rattus norvegicus) have identified genes involved in the regulation of social behavior 2. To assess sociability in animal models, several behavioral tests have been developed (reviewed in 3). Integrative research using animal models and appropriate tests for social behavior may lead to the development of improved treatments for social psychopathologies.
The three-chamber paradigm test known as Crawley's sociability and preference for social novelty protocol has been successfully employed to study social affiliation and social memory in several inbred and mutant mouse lines (e.g. 4-7). The main principle of this test is based on the free choice by a subject mouse to spend time in any of three box's compartments during two experimental sessions, including indirect contact with one or two mice with which it is unfamiliar. To quantitate social tendencies of the experimental mouse, the main tasks are to measure a) the time spent with a novel conspecific and b) preference for a novel vs. a familiar conspecific. Thus, the experimental design of this test allows evaluation of two critical but distinguishable aspects of social behavior, such as social affiliation/motivation, as well as social memory and novelty. "Sociability" in this case is defined as propensity to spend time with another mouse, as compared to time spent alone in an identical but empty chamber 7. "Preference for social novelty" is defined as propensity to spend time with a previously unencountered mouse rather than with a familiar mouse 7. This test provides robust results, which then must be carefully analyzed, interpreted and supported/confirmed by alternative sociability tests. In addition to specific applications, Crawley's sociability test can be included as an important component of general behavioral screen of mutant mice.
PMCID: PMC3197404  PMID: 21403628
6.  GSK-3: Functional Insights from Cell Biology and Animal Models 
Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) is a widely expressed and highly conserved serine/threonine protein kinase encoded in mammals by two genes that generate two related proteins: GSK-3α and GSK-3β. GSK-3 is active in cells under resting conditions and is primarily regulated through inhibition or diversion of its activity. While GSK-3 is one of the few protein kinases that can be inactivated by phosphorylation, the mechanisms of GSK-3 regulation are more varied and not fully understood. Precise control appears to be achieved by a combination of phosphorylation, localization, and sequestration by a number of GSK-3-binding proteins. GSK-3 lies downstream of several major signaling pathways including the phosphatidylinositol 3′ kinase pathway, the Wnt pathway, Hedgehog signaling and Notch. Specific pools of GSK-3, which differ in intracellular localization, binding partner affinity, and relative amount are differentially sensitized to several distinct signaling pathways and these sequestration mechanisms contribute to pathway insulation and signal specificity. Dysregulation of signaling pathways involving GSK-3 is associated with the pathogenesis of numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders and there are data suggesting GSK-3 isoform-selective roles in several of these. Here, we review the current knowledge of GSK-3 regulation and targets and discuss the various animal models that have been employed to dissect the functions of GSK-3 in brain development and function through the use of conventional or conditional knockout mice as well as transgenic mice. These studies have revealed fundamental roles for these protein kinases in memory, behavior, and neuronal fate determination and provide insights into possible therapeutic interventions.
PMCID: PMC3217193  PMID: 22110425
GSK-3; signal transduction; animal models; behavior
7.  Abnormalities in brain structure and behavior in GSK-3alpha mutant mice 
Molecular Brain  2009;2:35.
Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) is a widely expressed and highly conserved serine/threonine protein kinase encoded by two genes that generate two related proteins: GSK-3α and GSK-3β. Mice lacking a functional GSK-3α gene were engineered in our laboratory; they are viable and display insulin sensitivity. In this study, we have characterized brain functions of GSK-3α KO mice by using a well-established battery of behavioral tests together with neurochemical and neuroanatomical analysis.
Similar to the previously described behaviours of GSK-3β+/-mice, GSK-3α mutants display decreased exploratory activity, decreased immobility time and reduced aggressive behavior. However, genetic inactivation of the GSK-3α gene was associated with: decreased locomotion and impaired motor coordination, increased grooming activity, loss of social motivation and novelty; enhanced sensorimotor gating and impaired associated memory and coordination. GSK-3α KO mice exhibited a deficit in fear conditioning, however memory formation as assessed by a passive avoidance test was normal, suggesting that the animals are sensitized for active avoidance of a highly aversive stimulus in the fear-conditioning paradigm. Changes in cerebellar structure and function were observed in mutant mice along with a significant decrease of the number and size of Purkinje cells.
Taken together, these data support a role for the GSK-3α gene in CNS functioning and possible involvement in the development of psychiatric disorders.
PMCID: PMC2785804  PMID: 19925672

Results 1-7 (7)