The loss or injury of neurons associated with oxidative and nitrosative redox stress plays an important role in the onset of various neurodegenerative diseases. Specifically, nitric oxide (NO), can affect neuronal survival through a process called S-nitrosylation, by which the NO group undergoes a redox reaction with specific protein thiols. This in turn can lead to the accumulation of misfolded proteins, which generally form aggregates in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. Evidence suggests that S-nitrosylation can also impair mitochondrial function and lead to excessive fission of mitochondria and consequent bioenergetic compromise via effects on the activity of the fission protein dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1). This insult leads to synaptic dysfunction and loss. Additionally, high levels of NO can S-nitrosylate a number of aberrant targets involved in neuronal survival pathways, including the antiapoptotic protein XIAP, inhibiting its ability to prevent apoptosis.
Aberrant activation of Cdk5 has been implicated in the process of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). We recently reported that S-nitrosylation of Cdk5 (forming SNO-Cdk5) at specific cysteine residues results in excessive activation of Cdk5, contributing to mitochondrial dysfunction, synaptic damage, and neuronal cell death in models of AD. Furthermore, SNO-Cdk5 acts as a nascent S-nitrosylase, transnitrosylating the mitochondrial fission protein Drp1 and enhancing excessive mitochondrial fission in dendritic spines. However, a molecular mechanism that leads to the formation of SNO-Cdk5 in neuronal cells remained obscure. Here, we demonstrate that neuronal nitric oxide synthase (NOS1) interacts with Cdk5 and that the close proximity of the two proteins facilitates the formation of SNO-Cdk5. Interestingly, as a negative feedback mechanism, Cdk5 phosphorylates and suppresses NOS1 activity. Thus, together with our previous report, these findings delineate an S-nitrosylation pathway wherein Cdk5/NOS1 interaction enhances SNO-Cdk5 formation, mediating mitochondrial dysfunction and synaptic loss during the etiology of AD.
nitrosative stress; Cyclin-dependent kinase 5; nitric oxide; neuronal NO synthase; transnitrosylation
Mutations in the gene encoding parkin, a neuroprotective protein with dual functions as an E3 ubiquitin ligase and transcriptional repressor of p53, are linked to familial forms of Parkinson’s disease (PD). We hypothesized that oxidative posttranslational modification of parkin by environmental toxins may contribute to sporadic PD.
We first demonstrated that S-nitrosylation of parkin decreased its activity as a repressor of p53 gene expression, leading to upregulation of p53. Chromatin immunoprecipitation as well as gel-shift assays showed that parkin bound to the p53 promoter, and this binding was inhibited by S-nitrosylation of parkin. Additionally, nitrosative stress induced apoptosis in cells expressing parkin, and this death was, at least in part, dependent upon p53. In primary mesencephalic cultures, pesticide-induced apoptosis was prevented by inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS). In a mouse model of pesticide-induced PD, both S-nitrosylated (SNO-)parkin and p53 protein levels were increased, while administration of a NOS inhibitor mitigated neuronal death in these mice. Moreover, the levels of SNO-parkin and p53 were simultaneously elevated in postmortem human PD brain compared to controls.
Taken together, our data indicate that S-nitrosylation of parkin, leading to p53-mediated neuronal cell death, contributes to the pathophysiology of sporadic PD.
Nitric oxide (NO); S-nitrosylation; Parkin; p53; Nitrosative stress; Parkinson’s disease
Prolonged human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) infection leads to neurological debilitation, including motor dysfunction and frank dementia. Although pharmacological control of HIV infection is now possible, HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) remain intractable. Here, we report that chronic treatment with erythropoietin (EPO) and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) protects against HIV/gp120-mediated neuronal damage in culture and in vivo.
Initially, we tested the neuroprotective effects of various concentrations of EPO, IGF-I, or EPO+IGF-I from gp120-induced damage in vitro. To assess the chronic effects of EPO+IGF-I administration in vivo, we treated HIV/gp120-transgenic or wild-type mice transnasally once a week for 4 months and subsequently conducted immunohistochemical analyses.
Low concentrations of EPO+IGF-I provided neuroprotection from gp120 in vitro in a synergistic fashion. In vivo, EPO+IGF-I treatment prevented gp120-mediated neuronal loss, but did not alter microgliosis or astrocytosis. Strikingly, in the brains of both humans with HAND and gp120-transgenic mice, we found evidence for hyperphosphorylated tau protein (paired helical filament-I tau), which has been associated with neuronal damage and loss. In the mouse brain following transnasal treatment with EPO+IGF-I, in addition to neuroprotection we observed increased phosphorylation/activation of Akt (protein kinase B) and increased phosphorylation/inhibition of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3β, dramatically decreasing downstream hyperphosphorylation of tau. These results indicate that the peptides affected their cognate signaling pathways within the brain parenchyma.
Our findings suggest that chronic combination therapy with EPO+IGF-I provides neuroprotection in a mouse model of HAND, in part, through cooperative activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt/GSK-3β signaling. This combination peptide therapy should therefore be tested in humans with HAND.
HIV/gp120 transgenic mice manifest neuropathological features similar to HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) in humans, including astrogliosis, microglia activation, and decreased neuronal synapses. Here, proteomic screening of synaptosomes from HIV/gp120 transgenic mice was conducted to determine potential neuronal markers and drug targets associated with HAND. Synaptosomes from 13 month-old wild-type (wt) and HIV/gp120 transgenic mouse cortex were subjected to tandem mass tag (TMT) labeling and subsequent analysis using an LTQ-Orbitrap mass spectrometer in pulsed-Q dissociation (PQD) mode for tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). A total of 1301 proteins were identified in both wt and HIV/gp120 transgenic mice. Three of the most differentially-regulated proteins were validated by immunoblotting. To elucidate putative pathways associated with the proteomic profile, 107 proteins manifesting a ≥1.5 fold change in expression were analyzed using a bioinformatics pathway analysis tool. This analysis revealed direct or indirect involvement of the phosphotidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (Akt) pathway, a well-known neuronal survival pathway. Immunoblots confirmed a lower phospho (p)Akt/Akt ratio in synaptosomes from HIV/gp120 transgenic animals compared to wt, suggesting that this neuroprotective pathway was inactivated in the HIV/gp120 transgenic brain. Based on this information, we then compared immunoblots of pAkt/Akt in the forebrains of these mice as well as in human postmortem brain. We observed a significant decrease in the pAkt/Akt ratio in synaptosomes and forebrain of HIV/gp120 transgenic compared to wt mice, and a similar decrease in human forebrain from HAND patients compared to neurologically unimpaired HIV+ and HIV- controls. Moreover, mechanistic insight into an additional pathway for decreased Akt activity in HIV/gp120 mouse brains and human HAND brains was shown to occur via S-nitrosylation of Akt protein, a posttranslational modification known to inhibit Akt activity and contribute to neuronal cell injury and death. Thus, MS proteomic profiling in the HIV/gp120 transgenic mouse predicted dysregulation of the PI3K/Akt pathway observed in human brains with HAND, providing evidence that this mouse is a useful disease model and that the Akt pathway may provide multiple drug targets for the treatment of HIV-related dementias.
Proteomics; gp120; HIV-1; Akt; synaptosomes; tandem mass tag labeling for Mass Spectrometry; S-nitrosylation
The herb rosemary has been reported to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. We have previously shown that carnosic acid (CA), present in rosemary extract, crosses the blood–brain barrier to exert neuroprotective effects by upregulating endogenous antioxidant enzymes via the Nrf2 transcriptional pathway. Here we investigated the antioxidant and neuroprotective activity of CA in retinal cell lines exposed to oxidative stress and in a rat model of light-induced retinal degeneration (LIRD).
Retina-derived cell lines ARPE-19 and 661W treated with hydrogen peroxide were used as in vitro models for testing the protective activity of CA. For in vivo testing, dark-adapted rats were given intraperitoneal injections of CA prior to exposure to white light to assess protection of the photoreceptor cells. Retinal damage was assessed by measuring outer nuclear layer thickness and by electroretinogram (ERG).
In vitro, CA significantly protected retina-derived cell lines (ARPE-19 and 661W) against H2O2-induced toxicity. CA induced antioxidant phase 2 enzymes and reduced formation of hyperoxidized peroxiredoxin (Prx)2. Similarly, we found that CA protected retinas in vivo from LIRD, producing significant improvement in outer nuclear layer thickness and ERG activity.
These findings suggest that CA may potentially have clinical application to diseases affecting the outer retina, including age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa, in which oxidative stress is thought to contribute to disease progression.
Carnosic acid (CA) upregulates antioxidant enzymes via the Nrf2 transcriptional pathway. We show CA treatment protected retinal-derived cell lines against H2O2-induced toxicity, promoted survival of photoreceptor cells and preserved electroretinogram activity in rats subjected to light damage.
Recent evidence suggests that presynaptic-acting NMDA receptors (preNMDARs) are important for neocortical synaptic transmission and plasticity. We found that unique properties of the Nr3a subunit enable preNMDARs to enhance spontaneous and evoked glutamate release and that Nr3a is required for spike timing–dependent long-term depression in the juvenile mouse visual cortex. In the mature cortex, Nr2b-containing preNMDARs enhanced neurotransmission in the absence of magnesium, indicating that presynaptic NMDARs may function under depolarizing conditions throughout life. Our findings indicate that Nr3a relieves preNMDARs from the dual-activation requirement of ligand-binding and depolarization; the developmental removal of Nr3a limits preNMDAR functionality by restoring this associative property.
Debilitating neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD), can be attributed to neuronal cell damage in specific brain regions. An important hallmark of these diseases is increased oxidative and nitrosative stress that occurs via overproduction of highly reactive free radicals known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS). These molecules are normally removed by cellular antioxidant systems. Under physiological conditions, ROS/RNS are present at low levels, mediating several neurotrophic and neuroprotective signaling pathways. In contrast, under pathological conditions, there is a pronounced increase in ROS/RNS generation, impairing normal neurological function. Nitric oxide (NO) is one such molecule that functions as a signaling agent under physiological conditions but causes nitrosative stress under pathological conditions due to its enhanced production. As first reported by our group and colleagues, the toxic effects of NO can be in part attributed to thiol S-nitrosylation, a posttranslational modification of cysteine residues on specific proteins. Here, we review several reports appearing over the past decade showing that S-nitrosylation of an increasing number of proteins compromises important cellular functions, including mitochondrial dynamics, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) protein folding, and signal transduction, thereby promoting synaptic damage, cell death, and neurodegeneration.
Glutamatergic synapse maturation is critically dependent upon activation of NMDA-type glutamate receptors (NMDARs); however, the contributions of NR3A subunit-containing NMDARs to this process have only begun to be considered. Here we characterized the expression of NR3A in the developing mouse forebrain and examined the consequences of NR3A deletion on excitatory synapse maturation. We found that NR3A is expressed in many subcellular compartments, and during early development, NR3A subunits are particularly concentrated in the postsynaptic density (PSD). NR3A levels dramatically decline with age and are no longer enriched at PSDs in juveniles and adults. Genetic deletion of NR3A accelerates glutamatergic synaptic transmission, as measured by AMPAR-mediated postsynaptic currents recorded in hippocampal CA1. Consistent with the functional observations, we observed that the deletion of NR3A accelerated the expression of the glutamate receptor subunits NR1, NR2A, and GluR1 in the PSD in postnatal day (P) 8 mice. These data support the idea that glutamate receptors concentrate at synapses earlier in NR3A-knockout (NR3A-KO) mice. The precocious maturation of both AMPAR function and glutamate receptor expression are transient in NR3A-KO mice, as AMPAR currents and glutamate receptor protein levels are similar in NR3A-KO and wildtype mice by P16, an age when endogenous NR3A levels are normally declining. Taken together, our data support a model whereby NR3A negatively regulates the developmental stabilization of glutamate receptors involved in excitatory neurotransmission, synaptogenesis, and spine growth.
Excessive nitrosative and oxidative stress is thought to trigger cellular signaling pathways leading to neurodegenerative conditions. Such redox dysregulation can result from many cellular events, including hyperactivation of the N-methyl-d-aspartate-type glutamate receptor, mitochondrial dysfunction, and cellular aging. Recently, we and our colleagues have shown that excessive generation of free radicals and related molecules, in particular nitric oxide species (NO), can trigger pathological production of misfolded proteins, abnormal mitochondrial dynamics (comprised of mitochondrial fission and fusion events), and apoptotic pathways in neuronal cells. Emerging evidence suggests that excessive NO production can contribute to these pathological processes, specifically by S-nitrosylation of specific target proteins. Here, we highlight examples of S-nitrosylated proteins that regulate misfolded protein accumulation and mitochondrial dynamics. For instance, in models of Parkinson's disease, these S-nitrosylation targets include parkin, a ubiquitin E3 ligase and neuroprotective molecule, and protein-disulfide isomerase, a chaperone enzyme for nascent protein folding. S-Nitrosylation of protein-disulfide isomerase may also be associated with mutant Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase toxicity in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Additionally, in models of Alzheimer's disease, excessive NO generation leads to the formation of S-nitrosylated dynamin-related protein 1 (forming SNO-Drp1), which contributes to abnormal mitochondrial fragmentation and resultant synaptic damage. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 14, 1479–1492.
According to the multi-process theory of prospective memory (ProM), time-based tasks rely more heavily on strategic processes dependent on prefrontal systems than do event-based tasks. Given the prominent frontostriatal pathophysiology of HIV infection, one would expect HIV-infected individuals to demonstrate greater deficits in time-based versus event-based ProM. However, the two prior studies examining this question have produced variable results. We evaluated this hypothesis in 143 individuals with HIV infection and 43 demographically similar seronegative adults (HIV−) who completed the research version of the Memory for Intentions Screening Test, which yields parallel subscales of time- and event-based ProM. Results showed main effects of HIV serostatus and cue type, but no interaction between serostatus and cue. Planned pair-wise comparisons showed a significant effect of HIV on time-based ProM and a trend-level effect on event-based ProM that was driven primarily by the subset of participants with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Nevertheless, time-based ProM was more strongly correlated with measures of executive functions, attention/working memory, and verbal fluency in HIV-infected persons. Although HIV-associated deficits in time- and event-based ProM appear to be of comparable severity, the cognitive architecture of time-based ProM may be more strongly influenced by strategic monitoring and retrieval processes.
AIDS dementia complex; Episodic memory; Executive functions; Neuropsychological assessment
Bax-Inhibitor-1 (BI-1) is an evolutionarily conserved cytoprotective protein that resides in membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). BI-1’s cytoprotective activity is manifested in the context of ER stress, with previous studies showing that BI-1 modulates several ER-associated functions, including Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) signaling. Here we investigated the role of BI-1 in neuroprotection by generating transgenic mice in which BI-1 was constitutively expressed from a neuronal-specific promoter. Cultured primary cortical neurons from BI-1 transgenic mouse embryos exhibited greater resistance to cell death induced by agents known to cause ER stress compared to their non-transgenic counterparts. While brain morphology and vasculature of BI-1 mice appeared to be unchanged from normal non-transgenic mice, BI-1 transgenic mice showed reduced brain/lesion volumes and better performance in motoric tests, compared with non-transgenic littermates, in two models of acute brain injury – stroke caused by middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by controlled cortical impact. Furthermore, brain tissue from BI-1 transgenic mice showed reduced levels of apoptotic cells and reduced induction of markers of ER stress after brain injury, including CHOP protein expression. In summary, our findings demonstrate that enforced neuronal expression of BI-1 reduces ER stress and provides protection from acute brain injury, suggesting that strategies for enhancing BI-1 expression or activity should be considered for development of new therapies for counteracting the consequences of stroke and acute brain trauma.
Neuroprotection; Unfolded Protein Response; Brain Injury
Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can potentially differentiate into any cell type, including dopaminergic neurons to treat Parkinson's disease (PD), but hyperproliferation and tumor formation must be avoided. Accordingly, we use myocyte enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C) as a neurogenic and anti-apoptotic transcription factor to generate neurons from hESC-derived neural stem/progenitor cells (NPCs), thus avoiding hyperproliferation. Here, we report that forced expression of constitutively active MEF2C (MEF2CA) generates significantly greater numbers of neurons with dopaminergic properties in vitro. Conversely, RNAi knockdown of MEF2C in NPCs decreases neuronal differentiation and dendritic length. When we inject MEF2CA-programmed NPCs into 6-hydroxydopamine—lesioned Parkinsonian rats in vivo, the transplanted cells survive well, differentiate into tyrosine hydroxylase-positive neurons, and improve behavioral deficits to a significantly greater degree than non-programmed cells. The enriched generation of dopaminergic neuronal lineages from hESCs by forced expression of MEF2CA in the proper context may prove valuable in cell-based therapy for CNS disorders such as PD.
Neurons are known to use large amounts of energy for their normal function and activity. In order to meet this demand, mitochondrial fission, fusion, and movement events (mitochondrial dynamics) control mitochondrial morphology, facilitating biogenesis and proper distribution of mitochondria within neurons. In contrast, dysfunction in mitochondrial dynamics results in reduced cell bioenergetics and thus contributes to neuronal injury and death in many neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. We recently reported that amyloid-β peptide, thought to be a key mediator of AD pathogenesis, engenders S-nitrosylation and thus hyperactivation of the mitochondrial fission protein Drp1. This activation leads to excessive mitochondrial fragmentation, bioenergetic compromise, and synaptic damage in models of AD. Here, we provide an extended commentary on our findings of nitric oxide-mediated abnormal mitochondrial dynamics.
S-Nitrosylation; Dynamin-related protein 1; Alzheimers’s disease; Mitochondrial fission
X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) is a potent antagonist of caspase apoptotic activity. XIAP also functions as an E3 ubiquitin ligase, targeting caspases for degradation. However, molecular pathways controlling XIAP activities remain unclear. Here we report that nitric oxide (NO) reacts with XIAP by S-nitrosylating its RING domain (forming SNO-XIAP), thereby inhibiting E3 ligase and antiapoptotic activity. NO-mediated neurotoxicity and caspase activation have been linked to several neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases. We find significant SNO-XIAP formation in brains of patients with these diseases, implicating this reaction in the etiology of neuronal damage. Conversely, S-nitrosylation of caspases is known to inhibit apoptotic activity. Unexpectedly, we find that SNO-caspase transnitrosylates (transfers its NO group) to XIAP, forming SNO-XIAP, and thus promotes cell injury and death. These findings provide unique insights into the regulation of caspase activation in neurodegenerative disorders mediated, at least in part, by nitrosative stress.
Accumulation of aberrant proteins to form Lewy bodies (LBs) is a hallmark of Parkinson's disease (PD). Ubiquitination-mediated degradation of aberrant, misfolded proteins is critical for maintaining normal cell function. Emerging evidence suggests that oxidative/nitrosative stress compromises the precisely-regulated network of ubiquitination in PD, particularly affecting parkin E3 ligase activity, and contributes to the accumulation of toxic proteins and neuronal cell death.
To gain insight into the mechanism whereby cell stress alters parkin-mediated ubiquitination and LB formation, we investigated the effect of oxidative stress. We found significant increases in oxidation (sulfonation) and subsequent aggregation of parkin in SH-SY5Y cells exposed to the mitochondrial complex I inhibitor 1-methyl-4-phenlypyridinium (MPP+), representing an in vitro cell-based PD model. Exposure of these cells to direct oxidation via pathological doses of H2O2 induced a vicious cycle of increased followed by decreased parkin E3 ligase activity, similar to that previously reported following S-nitrosylation of parkin. Pre-incubation with catalase attenuated H2O2 accumulation, parkin sulfonation, and parkin aggregation. Mass spectrometry (MS) analysis revealed that H2O2 reacted with specific cysteine residues of parkin, resulting in sulfination/sulfonation in regions of the protein similar to those affected by parkin mutations in hereditary forms of PD. Immunohistochemistry or gel electrophoresis revealed an increase in aggregated parkin in rats and primates exposed to mitochondrial complex I inhibitors, as well as in postmortem human brain from patients with PD with LBs.
These findings show that oxidative stress alters parkin E3 ligase activity, leading to dysfunction of the ubiquitin-proteasome system and potentially contributing to LB formation.
Overactivation of the NMDA-subtype of glutamate receptor is known to trigger excessive calcium influx, contributing to neurodegenerative conditions. Such dysregulation of calcium signaling results in generation of excessive free radicals, including reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS), including nitric oxide (NO). In turn, we and our colleagues have shown that these free radicals trigger pathological production of misfolded proteins, mitochondrial dysfunction, and apoptotic pathways in neuronal cells. Here, we discuss emerging evidence that excessive calcium-induced NO production can contribute to the accumulation of misfolded proteins, specifically by S-nitrosylation of the ubiquitin E3 ligase, parkin, and the chaperone enzyme for nascent protein folding, protein-disulfide isomerase. Additionally, excessive calcium-induced NO generation leads to the formation of S-nitrosylated dynamin-related protein 1, which causes abnormal mitochondrial fragmentation and resultant synaptic damage. In this review, we also discuss how two novel classes of pharmacological agents hold promise to interrupt these pathological processes. Firstly, the NMDA receptor antagonists, Memantine and NitroMemantine, block excessive extrasynaptic glutamate excitation while maintaining synaptic transmission, thereby limiting excessive calcium influx and production of ROS/RNS. Secondly, therapeutic pro-electrophiles are activated in the face of oxidative insult, thus protecting cells from calcium-induced oxidative stress via the Keap1/Nrf2 transcriptional pathway.
Reactive Nitrogen Species; S-Nitrosylation; Molecular Chaperone; Ubiquitin-Proteasome System; Protein Misfolding; Mitochondrial Fission; Neurodegeneration; Memantine
Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. The N-methyl-D-aspartate subtype of glutamate receptors (NMDARs) is known to mediate many physiological neural functions. However, excessive activation of NMDARs contributes to neuronal damage in various acute and chronic neurological disorders. In order to avoid unwanted adverse side effects, blockade of excessive NMDAR activity must therefore be achieved without affecting its physiological function. Memantine, an adamantane derivative, has been used for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease with an excellent clinical safety profile. We previously showed that memantine preferentially blocked neurotoxicity mediated by excessive NMDAR activity while relatively sparing normal neurotransmission, in part due to its uncompetitive antagonism with a fast off-rate. Here, using rat autaptic hippocampal microcultures, we show that memantine at therapeutic concentrations (1–10 μM) preferentially blocks extrasynaptic rather than synaptic currents mediated by NMDARs in the same neuron. We found that memantine blocks extrasynaptic NMDAR-mediated currents induced by bath application of 100 μM NMDA/10 μM glycine with a 2-fold higher potency than its blockade of the NMDAR component of evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCsNMDAR); this effect persists under conditions of pathological depolarization in the presence of 1 mM extracellular Mg2+. Thus, our findings provide the first unequivocal evidence to explain the tolerability of memantine based on differential extrasynaptic/synaptic receptor blockade. At therapeutic concentrations, memantine effectively blocks excessive extrasynaptic NMDAR-mediated currents, while relatively sparing normal synaptic activity.
NMDA receptors; uncompetitive antagonism; synaptic currents; extrasynaptic currents; neuroprotection; clinically-tolerated antagonist
NMDA receptors are typically excited by a combination of glutamate and glycine. Here we describe excitatory responses in CNS myelin that are gated by a glycine agonist alone and mediated by NR1/NR3 ‘NMDA receptor’ subunits. Response properties include activation by d-serine, inhibition by the glycine-site antagonist CNQX, and insensitivity to the glutamate-site antagonist d-APV. d-Serine responses were abrogated in NR3A-deficient mice. Our results suggest the presence of functional NR1/NR3 receptors in CNS myelin.
NMDARs; NR3; myelin; glycine; d-serine; white matter
To evaluate the long-term safety and efficacy of memantine use as treatment of HIV-associated cognitive impairment.
The results of a 20-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of memantine in HIV-infected participants with cognitive impairment (ACTG 301) were previously reported. We report the results of the up-to-60-week open-label phase following the double-blind phase.
Participants received open-label memantine and were escalated to a 40 mg/day dose or their maximum tolerated dose in the double-blind phase. Adverse experiences were used to evaluate safety, and changes in the mean of eight neuropsychological test scores (NPZ-8) were used to evaluate efficacy.
Ninety-nine participants entered the initial 12-week open-label phase and 45 in the additional 48-week extension. Twenty-seven participants reported severe adverse experiences. During the initial 12-week open-label phase, participants randomized to memantine in the double-blind phase had a statistically significant higher improvement in NPZ-8 compared to those randomized to placebo in the double-blind phase. No statistically significant NPZ-8 changes were detected during the 48-week extension.
Long-term use of memantine appears safe and tolerable. Future randomized studies with longer follow-up are necessary to establish efficacy of memantine for the treatment of HIV-associated cognitive impairment.
AIDS dementia; cognitive impairment; memantine; HIV
The phosphatase PTEN governs the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt signaling pathway which is arguably the most important pro-survival pathway in neurons. Recently, PTEN has also been implicated in multiple important CNS functions such as neuronal differentiation, plasticity, injury and drug addiction. It has been reported that loss of PTEN protein, accompanied by Akt activation, occurs under excitotoxic conditions (stroke) as well as in Alzheimer's (AD) brains. However the molecular signals and mechanism underlying PTEN loss are unknown.
In this study, we investigated redox regulation of PTEN, namely S-nitrosylation, a covalent modification of cysteine residues by nitric oxide (NO), and H2O2-mediated oxidation. We found that S-nitrosylation of PTEN was markedly elevated in brains in the early stages of AD (MCI). Surprisingly, there was no increase in the H2O2-mediated oxidation of PTEN, a modification common in cancer cell types, in the MCI/AD brains as compared to normal aged control. Using several cultured neuronal models, we further demonstrate that S-nitrosylation, in conjunction with NO-mediated enhanced ubiquitination, regulates both the lipid phosphatase activity and protein stability of PTEN. S-nitrosylation and oxidation occur on overlapping and distinct Cys residues of PTEN. The NO signal induces PTEN protein degradation via the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) through NEDD4-1-mediated ubiquitination.
This study demonstrates for the first time that NO-mediated redox regulation is the mechanism of PTEN protein degradation, which is distinguished from the H2O2-mediated PTEN oxidation, known to only inactivate the enzyme. This novel regulatory mechanism likely accounts for the PTEN loss observed in neurodegeneration such as in AD, in which NO plays a critical pathophysiological role.
K+ channel interacting protein 1 (KChIP1) is a neuronal calcium sensor (NCS) protein that interacts with multiple intracellular molecules. Its physiological function, however, remains largely unknown. We report that KChIP1 is predominantly expressed at GABAergic synapses of a subset of parvalbumin-positive neurons in the brain. Forced expression of KChIP1 in cultured hippocampal neurons increased the frequency of miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs), reduced paired pulse facilitation of autaptic IPSCs, and decreases potassium current density. Furthermore, genetic ablation of KChIP1 potentiated potassium current density in neurons and caused a robust enhancement of anxiety-like behavior in mice. Our study suggests that KChIP1 is a synaptic protein that regulates behavioral anxiety by modulating inhibitory synaptic transmission, and drugs that act on KChIP1 may help to treat patients with mood disorders including anxiety.
Retinal ganglion cells can be protected by a caspase-substrate binding peptide, IQACRG, which protects proteins from caspase cleavage.
This study investigated whether the enzymatically inactive caspase mimetic IQACRG protects rat retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) from excitotoxic insults. Minimally invasive delivery of the peptide to the retina was explored, and the mechanisms of neuroprotection were elucidated.
IQACRG was linked to penetratin (P-IQACRG) to facilitate cellular uptake. RGC labeling by biotinylated-P-IQACRG delivered via intravitreal or subconjunctival injection was demonstrated by avidin-biotin chemistry. The authors used histologic and electrophysiological measures to evaluate the neuroprotective potential of P-IQACRG against RGC death induced by N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) in vitro and in vivo. In addition, they monitored activity of an enzyme that is downstream of caspase-1, matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), and protein levels of the caspase-3/7 substrate, myocyte enhancer factor 2C (MEF2C), to determine the effectiveness of IQACRG in blocking excessive caspase activity.
IQACRG significantly reduced NMDA-induced RGC death in culture and in vivo. Ex vivo electrophysiological recording of the retina on multielectrode arrays demonstrated functional rescue of RGCs by IQACRG. The authors also found that delivery of IQACRG to the retina inhibited NMDA-triggered MMP-9 activity and prevented cleavage of MEF2C protein that would otherwise have been engendered by caspase activation preceding RGC death. Strikingly, subconjunctival injection of P-IQACRG was very effective in preventing NMDA-induced RGC death in vivo.
These data demonstrate that IQACRG protects RGCs from excitotoxicity in vitro and in vivo. The positive results with subconjunctival administration of P-IQACRG suggest that in the future this treatment may be useful clinically in diseases such as glaucoma and retinal ischemia.
We have characterized a rodent-specific gene family designated α-takusan (meaning “many” in Japanese). We initially identified a member of the family whose expression is upregulated in mice lacking the NMDAR subunit NR3A. We then isolated cDNAs encoding 46 α-takusan variants from mouse brains. Most variants share a ~130-aa long sequence, which contains the previously identified DUF622 (domain of unknown function 622) and is predicted to form coiled-coil structures. Single-cell PCR analyses indicate one neuron can express multiple α-takusan variants, and particular variants may predominate in certain cell types. Forced expression in cultured hippocampal neurons of two variants, α1 or α2, which bind either directly or indirectly to PSD-95, leads to an increase in PSD-95 clustering, dendritic-spine density, GluR1 surface expression, and AMPAR activity. Conversely, treating cultured neurons with RNAi targeting α-takusan variants resulted in the opposite phenotype. Hence, α-takusan represents a novel gene family that regulates synaptic activity.