Gene*environment interactions play critical roles in the emergence of autism and schizophrenia pathophysiology. In both disorders, recent genetic association studies have provided evidence for disease-linked variation in immune system genes and post-mortem gene expression studies have shown extensive chronic immune abnormalities in brains of diseased subjects. Furthermore, peripheral biomarker studies revealed that both innate and adaptive immune systems are dysregulated. In both disorders symptoms of the disease correlate with the immune system dysfunction; yet, in autism this process appears to be chronic and sustained, while in schizophrenia it is exacerbated during acute episodes. Furthermore, since immune abnormalities endure into adulthood and anti-inflammatory agents appear to be beneficial, it is likely that these immune changes actively contribute to disease symptoms. Modeling these changes in animals provided further evidence that prenatal maternal immune activation alters neurodevelopment and leads to behavioral changes that are relevant for autism and schizophrenia. The converging evidence strongly argues that neurodevelopmental immune insults and genetic background critically interact and result in increased risk for either autism or schizophrenia. Further research in these areas may improve prenatal health screening in genetically at-risk families and may also lead to new preventive and/or therapeutic strategies.
schizophrenia; autism; immune; environment; maternal immune activation
In this review, we provide a synopsis of work on the epidemiologic evidence for prenatal infection in the etiology of schizophrenia and autism. In birth cohort studies conducted by our group and others, in utero exposure to infectious agents, prospectively obtained following biomarker assays of archived maternal sera and by obstetric records was related to an elevated risk of schizophrenia. Thus far, it has been demonstrated that prenatal exposure to influenza, elevated toxoplasma antibody, genital/reproductive infections, rubella, and other pathogens are associated with schizophrenia. Anomalies of the immune system, including enhanced maternal cytokine levels are also related to schizophrenia. Some evidence also suggests that maternal infection and immune dysfunction may be associated with autism. Although replication is required, these findings suggest that public health interventions targeting infectious exposures have the potential for preventing cases of schizophrenia and autism. Moreover, this work has stimulated translational research on the neurobiological and genetic determinants of these conditions.
schizophrenia; infection; influenza; epidemiology; toxoplasmosis; birth cohort
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a major health concern worldwide and results from maternal consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. It produces tremendous individual, social, and economic losses. This review will first summarize the structural, functional and behavior changes seen in FASD. The development of the neuroimmune system will be then be described with particular emphasis on the role of microglial cells in the normal regulation of homeostatic function in the central nervous system (CNS) including synaptic transmission. The impact of alcohol on the neuroimmune system in the developing CNS will be discussed in the context of several key immune molecules and signaling pathways involved in neuroimmune mechanisms that contribute to FASD. This review concludes with a summary of the development of early therapeutic approaches utilizing immunosuppressive drugs to target alcohol-induced pathologies. The significant role played by neuroimmune mechanisms in alcohol addiction and pathology provides a focus for future research aimed at understanding and treating the consequences of FASD.
Microglia; CNS development; Fetal alcohol syndrome; Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; Toll-like receptor
Recent evidence has emerged indicating that the maternal immune response can have a substantial deleterious impact on prenatal development (Croen et al., 2008). The maternal immune response is largely sequestered from the fetus. Maternal antibodies, specifically immunoglobulin G (IgG), are passed to the fetus to provide passive immunity throughout much of pregnancy. However, both protective and pathogenic autoantibodies have equal access to the fetus (Goines and Van de Water, 2010). If the mother has an underlying autoimmune disease or has reactivity to fetal antigens, autoantibodies produced before or during pregnancy can target tissues in the developing fetus. One such tissue is the fetal brain. The blood brain barrier (BBB) is developing during the fetal period allowing maternal antibodies to have direct access to the brain during gestation (Diamond et al., 2009; Braunschweig et al., 2011). It has been proposed that brain injury by circulating brain–specific maternal autoantibodies might underlie multiple congenital, developmental disorders (Lee et al., 2009). In this review, we will discuss the current state of research in the area of maternal autoantibodies and the development of autism.
Cadherin cell adhesion molecules play crucial roles in vertebrate development including the development of the retina. Most studies have focused on examining functions of classic cadherins (e.g. N-cadherin) in retinal development. There is little information on the function of protocadherins in the development of the vertebrate visual system. We previously showed that protocadherin-17 mRNA was expressed in developing zebrafish retina during critical stages of the retinal development. To gain insight into protocadherin-17 function in the formation of the retina, we analyzed eye development and differentiation of retinal cells in zebrafish embryos injected with protocadherin-17 specific antisense morpholino oligonucleotides (MOs). Protocadherin-17 knockdown embryos (pcdh17 morphants) had significantly reduced eyes due mainly to decreased cell proliferation. Differentiation of several retinal cell types (e.g. retinal ganglion cells) was also disrupted in the pcdh17 morphants. Phenotypic rescue was achieved by injection of protocadherin-17 mRNA. Injection of a vivo-protocadherin-17 MO into one eye of embryonic zebrafish resulted in similar eye defects. Our results suggest that protocadherin-17 plays an important role in the normal formation of the zebrafish retina.
cell adhesion molecules; eye; retinal cells differentiation; optic nerve
The bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) are a group of powerful morphogens that are critical for development of the nervous system. The effects of BMP signaling on neural stem cells are myriad and dynamic, changing with each stage of development. During early development inhibition of BMP signaling differentiates neuroectoderm from ectoderm, and BMP signaling helps to specify neural crest. Thus modulation of BMP signaling underlies formation of both the central and peripheral nervous systems. BMPs secreted from dorsal structures then form a gradient which helps pattern the dorsal–ventral axis of the developing spinal cord and brain. During forebrain development BMPs sequentially induce neurogenesis and then astrogliogenesis and participate in neurite outgrowth from immature neurons. BMP signaling also plays a critical role in maintaining adult neural stem cell niches in the subventricular zone (SVZ) and subgranular zone (SGZ). BMPs are able to exert such diverse effects through closely regulated temporospatial expression and interaction with other signaling pathways.
BMP; neural stem cells; patterning; neurogenesis; gliogenesis
During neural development, patterning, neurogenesis and overall growth are highly regulated and coordinated between different brain regions. Here, we show that primary cilia and the regulation of Gli activity, are necessary for the normal expansion of the cerebral cortex. We show that loss of Kif3a, an important functional component of primary cilia, leads to the degeneration of primary cilia, marked overgrowth of the cortex, and altered cell cycle kinetics within cortical progenitors. The G1 phase of the cell cycle is shortened through a mechanism likely involving reduced Gli3 activity and a resulting increase in expression of cyclin D1 and Fgf15. The defects in Gli3 activity alone are sufficient to accelerate cell cycle kinetics and cause the molecular changes seen in brains that lack cilia. Finally, we show that levels of full-length and repressor Gli3 proteins are tightly regulated during normal development and correlate with changes in expression of two known Shh-target genes, CyclinD1 and Fgf15, and with the normal lengthening of the cell cycle during corticogenesis. These data suggest that Gli3 activity is regulated through the primary cilium to control cell cycle length in the cortex and thus determine cortical size.
Kif3a; cilia; Gli3; proliferation; cell cycle
Precision in auditory brainstem connectivity underlies sound localization. Cochlear activity is transmitted to the ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN) in the mammalian brainstem via the auditory nerve. VCN globular bushy cells project to the contralateral medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB), where specialized axons terminals, the calyces of Held, encapsulate MNTB principal neurons. The VCN-MNTB pathway is an essential component of the circuitry used to compute interaural intensity differences that are used for localizing sounds. When input from one ear is removed during early postnatal development, auditory brainstem circuitry displays robust anatomical plasticity. The molecular mechanisms that control the development of auditory brainstem circuitry and the developmental plasticity of these pathways are poorly understood. In this study we examined the role of EphB signaling in the development of the VCN-MNTB projection and in the reorganization of this pathway after unilateral deafferentation. We found that EphB2 and EphB3 reverse signaling are critical for the normal development of the projection from VCN to MNTB, but that successful circuit assembly most likely relies upon the coordinated function of many EphB proteins. We have also found that ephrin-B reverse signaling repels induced projections to the ipsilateral MNTB after unilateral deafferentation, suggesting that similar mechanisms regulate these two processes.
EphB; ephrin-B; VCN; MNTB; deafferentation
Dense-core granules (DCGs) are organelles found in neuroendocrine cells and neurons that house, transport, and release a number of important peptides and proteins. In neurons, DCG cargo can include the secreted neuromodulatory proteins tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and/or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which play a key role in modulating synaptic efficacy in the hippocampus. This function has spurred interest in DCGs that localize to synaptic contacts between hippocampal neurons, and several studies recently have established that DCGs localize to, and undergo regulated exocytosis from, postsynaptic sites. To complement this work, we have studied presynaptically-localized DCGs in hippocampal neurons, which are much more poorly understood than their postsynaptic analogs. Moreover, to enhance relevance, we visualized DCGs via fluorescence labeling of exogenous and endogenous tPA and BDNF. Using single-particle tracking, we determined trajectories of more than 150 presynaptically-localized DCGs. These trajectories reveal that mobility of DCGs in presynaptic boutons is highly hindered and that storage is long-lived. We also computed mean-squared displacement curves, which can be used to elucidate mechanisms of transport. Over shorter time windows, most curves are linear, demonstrating that DCG transport in boutons is driven predominantly by diffusion. The remaining curves plateau with time, consistent with motion constrained by a submicron-sized corral. These results have relevance to recent models of presynaptic organization and to recent hypotheses about DCG cargo function. The results also provide estimates for transit times to the presynaptic plasma membrane that are consistent with measured times for onset of neurotrophin release from synaptically-localized DCGs.
Dense-core granule; presynaptic; transport; neuromodulator; hippocampus
Mechanosensory hair cells of the chicken inner ear are innervated by the peripheral processes of statoacoustic ganglion (SAG) neurons. Members of several morphogen families are expressed within and surrounding the chick inner ear during stages of SAG axon outgrowth and pathfinding. Based on their localized expression patterns, we hypothesized that BMPs, FGFs and Shh may function as guidance cues for growing axons and/or may function as trophic factors once axons have reached their targets. To test this hypothesis, three-dimensional collagen cultures were used to grow embryonic day 4 (E4) chick SAG explants for 24 hours in the presence of purified proteins or beads soaked in proteins. The density of neurite outgrowth was quantified to determine effects on neurite outgrowth. Explants displayed enhanced neurite outgrowth when cultured in the presence of purified BMP4, BMP7, a low concentration of Shh, FGF8, FGF10, or FGF19. In contrast, SAG neurons appeared unresponsive to FGF2. Collagen gel cultures were labeled with TUNEL and immunostained with anti-phospho-histone H3 to determine effects on neuron survival and proliferation, respectively. Treatments that increased neurite outgrowth also yielded significantly fewer apoptotic cells, with no effect on cell proliferation. When presented as focal sources, BMP4, Shh, and FGFs -8, -10, and -19 promoted asymmetric outgrowth from the ganglion in the direction of the beads. BMP7-soaked beads did not induce this response. These results suggest that a subset of morphogens enhance both survival and axon outgrowth of otic neurons.
BMP; FGF; inner ear; neurotrophic; Shh
Mind-the-Gap (MTG) is required for neuronal induction of Drosophila neuromuscular junction (NMJ) postsynaptic domains, including glutamate receptor (GluR) localization. We have previously hypothesized that MTG is secreted from the presynaptic terminal to reside in the synaptic cleft, where it binds glycans to organize the heavily-glycosylated, extracellular synaptomatrix required for trans-synaptic signaling between neuron and muscle. In this study, we test this hypothesis with MTG structure-function analyses of predicted signal peptide (SP) and carbohydrate-binding domain (CBD), by introducing deletion and point-mutant transgenic constructs into mtg null mutants. We show that the SP is required for MTG secretion and localization to synapses in vivo. We further show that the CBD is required to restrict MTG diffusion in the extracellular synaptomatrix and for postembryonic viability. However, CBD mutation results in elevation of postsynaptic GluR localization during synaptogenesis, not the mtg null mutant phenotype of reduced GluRs as predicted by our hypothesis, suggesting that proper synaptic localization of MTG limits GluR recruitment. In further testing CBD requirements, we show that MTG binds N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) in a Ca2+-dependent manner, and thereby binds HRP-epitope glycans, but that these carbohydrate interactions do not require the CBD. We conclude that the MTG lectin has both positive and negative binding interactions with glycans in the extracellular synaptic domain, which both facilitate and limit GluR localization during NMJ embryonic synaptogenesis.
synaptomatrix; glycan; carbohydrate-binding domain; neuromuscular junction; Drosophila
Presenilins (PS1 and PS2) are multi-functional proteins involved in a diverse array of molecular and cellular functions, including proteolysis, development, neurogenesis, synaptic plasticity, ion channel regulation and phospholipid metabolism. Mutations in presenilin genes are responsible for the majority of Familial Alzheimer disease (FAD). Consequently, FAD-associated mutations in genes encoding PS1 or PS2 lead to several key cellular phenotypes, including alterations in proteolysis of β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) and Ca2+ entry. The mechanism underlying presenilin (PS)-mediated modulation of Ca2+ entry remains to be determined. Our previous studies showed that the PS-dependent down-regulation of phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (PIP2) is attributable to the observed Ca2+ deficits. In this study, we attempted to identify the ion channel that is subject to the PIP2 and PS-dependent modulation. We found that Ca2+ or Zn2+ entry via the transient receptor potential melastatin 7 (TRPM7) channel was attenuated by the presence of FAD-associated PS1 mutants, such as ΔE9 and L286V. TRPM7 has been implicated in Mg2+ homeostasis and embryonic development. The intracellular delivery of PIP2 restored TRPM7-mediated Ca2+ influx, indicating that the observed deficits in Ca2+ entry are due to down-regulation of PIP2. Conversely, PS1 and PS2 deficiency, previously shown to up-regulate PIP2 levels, potentiated TRPM7-mediated Ca2+ influx. PS-dependent changes in Ca2+ influx could be neutralized by a TRPM7 channel blocker. Collectively, these results indicate that TRPM7 may underlie the Ca2+ entry deficits observed in FAD-associated PS mutants and suggest that the normal function of PS involves regulation of TRPM7 through a PIP2-dependent mechanism.
Juvenile male zebra finches develop their song by imitation. Females do not sing but are attracted to males' songs. With functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Event Related Potentials (ERPs) we tested how early auditory experience shapes responses in the auditory forebrain of the adult bird. Adult male birds kept in isolation over the sensitive period for song learning showed no consistency in auditory responses to conspecific songs, calls, and syllables. Thirty seconds of song playback each day over development, which is sufficient to induce song imitation, was also sufficient to shape stimulus-specific responses. Strikingly, adult females kept in isolation over development showed responses similar to those of males that were exposed to songs. We suggest that early auditory experience with songs may be required to tune perception towards conspecific songs in males, whereas in females song selectivity develops even without prior exposure to song.
song learning; auditory forebrain; sensory; auditory responses; sensitive period
The adult zebrafish retina possesses a robust regenerative response. In the light-damaged retina, Müller glial cell divisions precede regeneration of rod and cone photoreceptors. Neuronal progenitors, which arise from the Müller glia, continue to divide and use the Müller glial cell processes to migrate to the outer nuclear layer and replace the lost photoreceptors. We tested the necessity of Müller glial cell division for photoreceptor regeneration. As knockdown tools were unavailable for use in the adult zebrafish retina, we developed a method to conditionally inhibit the expression of specific proteins by in vivo electroporation of morpholinos. We determined that two separate morpholinos targeted against the proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) mRNA reduced PCNA protein levels. Furthermore, injection and in vivo electroporation of PCNA morpholinos immediately prior to starting intense light exposure inhibited both Müller glial cell proliferation and neuronal progenitor marker Pax6 expression. PCNA knockdown additionally resulted in decreased expression of glutamine synthetase in Müller glia and Müller glial cell death, while amacrine and ganglion cells were unaffected. Finally, histological and immunological methods showed that long-term effects of PCNA knockdown resulted in decreased numbers of Müller glia and the failure to regenerate rod photoreceptors, short single cones, and long single cones. These data suggest that Müller glial cell division is necessary for proper photoreceptor regeneration in the light-damaged zebrafish retina and are consistent with the Müller glia serving as the source of neuronal progenitor cells in regenerating teleost retinas.
retinal regeneration; Müller glia; zebrafish; morpholino electroporation; stem cell
The adult hippocampus is one of the primary neural structures involved in memory formation. In addition to synapse-specific modifications thought to encode information at the sub-cellular level, changes in the intrahippocampal neuro-populational activity and dynamics at the circuit-level may contribute substantively to the functional capacity of this region. Within the hippocampus, the dentate gyrus has the potential to make a preferential contribution to neural circuit modification owing to the continuous addition of new granule cell population. The integration of newborn neurons into pre-existing circuitry is hypothesized to deliver a unique processing capacity, as opposed to merely replacing dying granule cells. Recent studies have begun to assess the impact of hippocampal neurogenesis by examining the extent to which adult-born neurons participate in hippocampal networks, including when newborn neurons become engaged in ongoing network activity and how they modulate circuit dynamics via their unique intrinsic physiological properties. Understanding the contributions of adult neurogenesis to hippocampal function will provide new insight into the fundamental aspects of brain plasticity, which can be used to guide therapeutic interventions to replace neural populations damaged by disease or injury.
Synaptic target selection is critical for establishing functional neuronal circuits. The mechanisms regulating target selection remain incompletely understood. We describe a role for the EGF receptor and its ligand Gurken in target selection of octopaminergic Type II neurons in the Drosophila neuromuscular system. Mutants in happyhour, a regulator of EGFR signaling, form ectopic Type II neuromuscular junctions. These ectopic innervations are due to inappropriate target selection. We demonstrate that EGFR signaling is necessary and sufficient to inhibit synaptic target selection by these octopaminergic Type II neurons, and that the EGFR ligand Gurken is the post-synaptic, muscle-derived repulsive cue. These results identify a new pathway mediating cell-type and branch-specific synaptic repulsion, a novel role for EGFR signaling in synaptic target selection, and an unexpected role for Gurken as a muscle-secreted repulsive ligand.
EGFR; Gurken; target selection; Type II neuron; synaptic repulsion
Precise navigation of axons to their targets is critical for establishing proper neuronal networks during development. Axon elongation, whereby axons extend far beyond the site of initiation to reach their target cells, is an essential step in this process, but the precise molecular pathways that regulate axon growth remain uncharacterized. Here we show that 14-3-3/14-3-3ς proteins—adaptor proteins that modulate diverse cellular processes including cytoskeletal dynamics—play a critical role in Xenopus retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axon elongation in vivo and in vitro. We have identified the expression of 14-3-3/14-3-3ς transcripts and proteins in retinal growth cones, with higher levels of expression occurring during the phase of rapid pathway extension. Competitive inhibition of 14-3-3/14-3-3ς by expression of a genetically encoded peptide, R18, in RGCs resulted in a marked decrease in the length of the initial retinotectal projection in vivo and a corresponding decrease in axon elongation rate in vitro (30–40%). Furthermore, 14-3-3/14-3-3ς (R1) co-localized with Xenopus actin depolymerizing factor (ADF)/cofilin (XAC) in RGC growth cones. Inhibition of 14-3-3/14-3-3ς function with either R18 or morpholinos reduced the level of inactive pXAC and increased the sensitivity to collapse by the repulsive cue, Slit2. Collectively, these results demonstrate that 14-3-3/14-3-3ς participates in the regulation of retinal axon elongation, in part by modulating XAC activity.
growth cone; retinal ganglion cell; axon elongation; cytoskeleton; 14-3-3; ADF/cofilin
Hippocampal function and plasticity differ with gender, but the regulatory mechanisms underlying sex differences remain elusive and may be established early in life. The present study sought to elucidate sex differences in hippocampal plasticity under normal developmental conditions and in response to repetitive, predictable versus varied, unpredictable prenatal stress (PS). Adult male and diestrous female offspring of pregnant rats exposed to no stress (control), repetitive stress (PS-restraint), or a randomized sequence of varied stressors (PS-random) during the last week of pregnancy were examined for hippocampal proliferation, neurogenesis, cell death, and local microenvironment using endogenous markers. Regional volume was also estimated by stereology. Control animals had comparable proliferation and regional volume regardless of sex, but females had lower neurogenesis compared to males. Increased cell death and differential hippocampal precursor kinetics both appear to contribute to reduced neurogenesis in females. Reduced local interleukin-1beta (IL-Iβ immunoreactivity (IR) in females argues for a mechanistic role for the anti-apoptotic cytokine in driving sex differences in cell death. Prenatal stress significantly impacted the hippocampus, with both stress paradigms causing robust decreases in actively proliferating cells in males and females. Several other hippocampal measures were feminized in males such as precursor kinetics, IL-Iβ-IR density, and cell death, reducing or abolishing some sex differences. The findings expand our understanding of the mechanisms underlying sex differences and highlight the critical role early stress can play on the balance between proliferation, neurogenesis, cell death, and hippocampal microenvironment in adulthood.
Restraint and random stress; subgranular zone; Ki-67; doublecortin; apoptosis; interleukin-1 beta; sex differences
Exercise in the form of daily treadmill training results in significant enhancement of axon regeneration following peripheral nerve injury. Because androgens are also linked to enhanced axon regeneration, we wanted to investigate whether sex differences in the effect of treadmill training might exist. The common fibular nerves of thy-1-YFP-H mice were cut and repaired with a graft of the same nerve from a strain-matched wild type donor mouse. Animals were treated with one of two daily treadmill training paradigms: slow continuous walking for one hour or four higher intensity intervals of two minutes duration separated by five minute rest periods. Training was begun on the third day following nerve injury and continued five days per week for two weeks. Effects on regeneration were evaluated by measuring regenerating axon profile lengths in optical sections through the repair sites and grafts at the end of the training period. No sex differences were found in untrained control mice. Continuous training resulted in significant enhancement of axon regeneration only in males. No effect was found in females or in castrated males. Interval training was effective in enhancing axon regeneration only in females and not in intact males or castrated males. Untrained females treated with the aromatase inhibitor, anastrozole, had significant enhancement of axon regeneration without increasing serum testosterone levels. Two different mechanisms exist to promote axon regeneration in a sex-dependent manner. In males treadmill training utilizes testicular androgens. In females a different cellular mechanism for the effect of treadmill training must exist.
The adult brain is capable of considerable structural and functional plasticity and the study of hormone actions in brain has contributed to our understanding of this important phenomenon. In particular, stress and stress-related hormones such as glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids play a key role in the ability of acute and chronic stress to cause reversible remodeling of neuronal connections in the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and amygdala. To produce this plasticity, these hormones act by both genomic and non-genomic mechanisms together with ongoing, experience-driven neural activity mediated by excitatory amino acid neurotransmitters, neurotrophic factors such as brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), extracellular molecules such as neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM), neuropeptides such as corticotrophin releasing factor (CRF) and endocannabinoids. The result is a dynamic brain architecture that can be modified by experience. Under this view, the role of pharmaceutical agents, such as antidepressants, is to facilitate such plasticity that must also be guided by experiences.
Experimental models of Parkinson’s disease (PD) created by aberrant expression of the alpha-synuclein (SNCA) coding region have been reported. However, non-coding regions function in normal physiology and recent in vitro studies have shown that microRNAs-7 and -153 regulate SNCA expression by binding the 3′UTR. Here, effects of different hSNCA forms were examined in vivo. Adult, male rats were injected into one substantia nigra (SN) with AAV-wtSNCA, AAV-S129A hSNCA, or AAV-S129DhSNCA either with or without a portion of the native 3′UTR. DA neurons in SN that maintained striatal (ST) projections at the end of treatment were retrogradely labeled by bilateral ST fluorogold (FG) injections and FG-positive DA neurons in SN were counted. At 5wks, hSNCA coding vectors reduced numbers of FG-positive neurons in injected SN compared to uninjected SN (wtSNCA, p≤0.05; S129A/D hSNCA, p≤0.01). At 7 and 9wks, wtSNCA- and S129D hSNCA-treated rats exhibited recovery, but S129A hSNCA-injected rats did not (p≤0.01). In contrast, numbers of FG-positive neurons were unaffected by hSNCA expression when the 3′UTR was included. When FG-positive neurons were expressed as the ratio of numbers in injected to uninjected sides, the S129AhSNCA coding vector resulted in the highest decrease at 9wks versus wtSNCA (p≤0.05) or S129D hSNCA (p≤0.01). Inclusion of the 3′UTR resulted in no significant differences in FG-positive neuron ratios. These data suggest that inclusion of the 3′UTR protects against S129A hSNCA-induced loss of nigrostriatal-projecting DA neurons in vivo and that mis-regulation of hSNCA expression and function at non-coding regions contribute to PD pathogenesis.
microRNA; phosphorylation; neurodegeneration; gene therapy; retrograde labeling
Interactions between genetic and environmental risk factors underlie a number of neuropsychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia (SZ) and autism (AD). Due to the complexity and multitude of the genetic and environmental factors attributed to these disorders, recent research strategies focus on elucidating the common molecular pathways through which these multiple risk factors may function. In this study, we examine the combined effects of a haplo-insufficiency of glutamate carboxypeptidase II (GCPII) and dietary folic acid deficiency. In addition to serving as a neuropeptidase, GCPII catalyzes the absorption of folate. GCPII and folate depletion interact within the one-carbon metabolic pathway and/or of modulate the glutamatergic system. Four groups of mice were tested: wildtype, GCPII hypomorphs, and wildtypes and GCPII hypomorphs both fed a folate deficient diet. Due to sex differences in the prevalence of SZ and AD, both male and female mice were assessed on a number of behavioral tasks including locomotor activity, rotorod, social interaction, pre-pulse inhibition, and spatial memory. Wildtype mice of both sexes fed a folic acid deficient diet showed motor coordination impairments and cognitive deficits, while social interactions were decreased only in males. GCPII mutant mice of both sexes also exhibited reduced social propensities. In contrast, all folate-depleted GCPII hypomorphs performed similarly to untreated wildtype mice, suggesting that reduced GCPII expression and folate deficiency are mutually protective. Analyses of folate and neurometabolite levels associated with glutamatergic function suggest several potential mechanisms through which GCPII and folate may be interacting to create this protective effect.
gene-environment interactions; glutamate; glutamate carboxypeptidase II; folate; one-carbon metabolism
Formation of the enteric nervous system (ENS) from migratory neural crest-derived cells that colonize the primordial gut involves a complex interplay among different signaling molecules. The bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), specifically BMP2 and BMP4, play a particularly important role in virtually every stage of gut and ENS development. BMP signaling helps to pattern both the anterior-posterior axis and the radial axis of the gut prior to colonization by migratory crest progenitor cells. BMP signaling then helps regulate the migration of enteric neural crest-derived precursors as they colonize the fetal gut and form ganglia. BMP2 and -4 promote differentiation of enteric neurons in early fetal ENS development and glia at later stages. A major role for BMP signaling in the ENS is regulation of responses to other growth factors. Thus BMP signaling first regulates neurogenesis by modulating responses to GDNF and later gliogenesis through its effects on GGF-2 responses. Furthermore, BMPs promote growth factor dependency for survival of ENS neurons (on NT-3) and glia (on GGF-2) by inducing TrkC (neurons) and ErbB3 (glia). BMP signaling limits total neuron numbers, favoring the differentiation of later born neuronal phenotypes at the expense of earlier born ones thus influencing the neuronal composition of the ENS and the glia/neuron ratio. BMP2 and -4 also promote gangliogenesis via modification of neural cell adhesion molecules and promote differentiation of the circular and then longitudinal smooth muscles. Disruption of BMP signaling leads to defects in the gut and in ENS function commensurate with these complex developmental roles.
neural crest; p75NTR; pSmad1/5/8; noggin; TrkC; NT-3; ErbB3; GGF-2; transgenic mice; neurotransmitters; PSA-NCAM; enteric nervous system
Neurotrophins can influence multiple cellular functions depending on the cellular context and the specific receptors they interact with. These neurotrophic factors have been extensively studied for their ability to support neuronal survival via Trk receptors, and to induce apoptosis via the p75NTR. However, the p75NTR is also detected on cell populations that do not undergo apoptosis in response to neurotrophins. In particular, we have detected p75NTR expression on astrocytes during development and after seizure-induced injury. In this study we the role of NGF in regulating astrocyte proliferation, and in influencing specific aspects of the cell cycle. We demonstrate that NGF prevents the induction of cyclins and their association with specific cyclin-dependent kinases, and thereby prevents progression through the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Since we have previously shown that p75NTR, but not TrkA, is expressed in astrocytes, these data suggest that activation of p75NTR promotes withdrawal of astrocytes from the cell cycle, which may have important consequences during development and after injury.
nerve growth factor; p75NTR; cell cycle; proliferation; astrocyte
Age-related memory loss is considered to commence at middle-age and coincides with reduced adult hippocampal neurogenesis and neurotrophin levels. Consistent physical activity at midlife may preserve brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels, new cell genesis and learning. In the present study, 9-month-old female C57Bl/6J mice were housed with or without a running wheel and injected with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) to label newborn cells. Morris water maze learning, open field activity and rotarod behavior were tested 1 and 6 months after exercise onset. Here we show that long-term running improved retention of spatial memory and modestly enhanced rotarod performance at 15 months of age. Both hippocampal neurogenesis and mature BDNF peptide levels were elevated after long-term running. Thus, regular exercise from the onset and during middle-age may maintain brain function.
Neurogenesis; BDNF; Cognition; Locomotor Activity; Exercise