Treatment options for people living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are limited and ineffective. Recently, dexpramipexole (RPPX) was advanced into human ALS clinical trials. In the current studies, we investigated RPPX in two parallel screening systems: 1) appropriately powered, sibling-matched, gender-balanced survival efficacy screening in high-copy B6-SJL-SOD1G93A/Gur1 mice, and 2) high-content neuronal survival screening in primary rat cortical neurons transfected with wild-type human TDP43 or mutant human TDP43. In both cases, we exposed the test systems to RPPX levels approximating those achieved in human Phase II clinical investigations. In SOD1G93A mice, no effect was observed on neuromotor disease progression or survival. In primary cortical neurons transfected with either mutant or wild-type human TDP43, a marginally significant improvement in a single indicator of neuronal survival was observed, and only at the 10 µM RPPX treatment. These systems reflect both mutant SOD1- and TDP43-mediated forms of neurodegeneration. The systems also reflect both complex non-cell autonomous and neuronal cell autonomous disease mechanisms. The results of these experiments, taken in context with results produced by other molecules tested in both screening systems, do not argue positively for further study of RPPX in ALS.
Engineered analog-sensitive (AS) protein kinases have emerged as powerful tools for dissecting phospho-signaling pathways, for elucidating the cellular function of individual kinases, and for deciphering unanticipated effects of clinical therapeutics. A crucial and necessary feature of this technology is a bioorthogonal small molecule that is innocuous towards native cellular systems but can potently inhibit the engineered kinase. In order to generalize this method we sought a molecule capable of targeting divergent AS-kinases. Here we employ X-ray crystallography and medicinal chemistry to unravel the mechanism of current inhibitors and use these insights to design the most potent, selective and general AS-kinase inhibitors reported to date. We use large-scale kinase inhibitor profiling to characterize the selectivity of these molecules as well as examine the consequences of potential off-target effects in chemical genetic experiments. The molecules reported here will serve as powerful tools in efforts to extend AS-kinase technology to the entire kinome and the principles discovered may help in the design of other engineered enzyme/ligand pairs.
Huntington’s disease (HD) causes severe motor dysfunction, behavioral abnormalities, cognitive impairment and death. Investigations into its molecular pathology have primarily relied on murine tissues; however, the recent discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has opened new possibilities to model neurodegenerative disease using cells derived directly from patients, and therefore may provide a human-cell-based platform for unique insights into the pathogenesis of HD. Here, we will examine the practical implementation of iPSCs to study HD, such as approaches to differentiate embryonic stem cells (ESCs) or iPSCs into medium spiny neurons, the cell type most susceptible in HD. We will explore the HD-related phenotypes identified in iPSCs and ESCs and review how brain development and neurogenesis may actually be altered early, before the onset of HD symptoms, which could inform the search for drugs that delay disease onset. Finally, we will speculate on the exciting possibility that ESCs or iPSCs might be used as therapeutics to restore or replace dying neurons in HD brains.
Huntington’s disease; induced pluripotent stem cells; IPSC; MSN; stem cell models; Neurodegenerative disease
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal, late-onset neurodegenerative disease primarily impacting motor neurons. A unifying feature of many proteins associated with ALS, including TDP-43 and Ataxin-2, is that they localize to stress granules. Unexpectedly, we found that genes that modulate stress granules are striking modifiers of TDP-43 toxicity in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Drosophila melanogaster, eIF2α phosphorylation is upregulated by TDP-43 toxicity in flies, and TDP-43 interacts with a central stress granule component polyA binding protein (PABP). In human ALS spinal cord neurons, PABP accumulates abnormally, suggesting that prolonged stress granule dysfunction may contribute to pathogenesis. We investigated the efficacy of a small molecule inhibitor of eIF2α-phosphorylation in ALS models. This treatment mitigated TDP-43 toxicity in flies and mammalian neurons. These findings indicate that dysfunction induced by prolonged stress granule formation may contribute directly to ALS and that compounds that mitigate this process may represent a novel therapeutic approach.
By combining experimental neuron models and mathematical tools, we developed a “systems” approach to deconvolve cellular mechanisms of neurodegeneration underlying the most common known cause of Parkinson's disease (PD), mutations in leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2). Neurons ectopically expressing mutant LRRK2 formed inclusion bodies (IBs), retracted neurites, accumulated synuclein, and died prematurely, recapitulating key features of PD. Degeneration was predicted from the levels of diffuse mutant LRRK2 that each neuron contained, but IB formation was neither necessary nor sufficient for death. Genetic or pharmacological blockade of its kinase activity destabilized LRRK2 and lowered its levels enough to account for the moderate reduction in LRRK2 toxicity that ensued. By contrast, targeting synuclein, including neurons made from PD patient-derived induced pluripotent cells, dramatically reduced LRRK2-dependent neurodegeneration and LRRK2 levels. These findings suggest that LRRK2 levels are more important than kinase activity per se in predicting toxicity and implicate synuclein as a major mediator of LRRK2-induced neurodegeneration.
LRRK2; mechanisms; Parkinson's disease; single cell; synuclein
The nature of the gain-of-function toxicity found in polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases has been the subject of considerable debate. Duvick et al. (2010) and Nedelsky et al. (2010) now show that in two of these diseases, pathology is mediated by normal protein activity.
Egawa et al. recently showed the value of patient-specific induced
pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for modeling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in
vitro. Their study and our work highlight the need for complementary assays to
detect small, but potentially important, phenotypic differences between control
iPSC lines and those carrying disease mutations.
The misfolding of intrinsically disordered proteins such as α-synuclein, tau and the Aβ peptide has been associated with many highly debilitating neurodegenerative syndromes including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Therapeutic targeting of the monomeric state of such intrinsically disordered proteins by small molecules has, however, been a major challenge because of their heterogeneous conformational properties. We show here that a combination of computational and experimental techniques has led to the identification of a drug-like phenyl-sulfonamide compound (ELN484228), that targets α-synuclein, a key protein in Parkinson’s disease. We found that this compound has substantial biological activity in cellular models of α-synuclein-mediated dysfunction, including rescue of α-synuclein-induced disruption of vesicle trafficking and dopaminergic neuronal loss and neurite retraction most likely by reducing the amount of α-synuclein targeted to sites of vesicle mobilization such as the synapse in neurons or the site of bead engulfment in microglial cells. These results indicate that targeting α-synuclein by small molecules represents a promising approach to the development of therapeutic treatments of Parkinson’s disease and related conditions.
Autosomal dominant mutations of the RNA/DNA binding protein FUS are linked to familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS); however, it is not clear how FUS mutations cause neurodegeneration. Using transgenic mice expressing a common FALS-associated FUS mutation (FUS-R521C mice), we found that mutant FUS proteins formed a stable complex with WT FUS proteins and interfered with the normal interactions between FUS and histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1). Consequently, FUS-R521C mice exhibited evidence of DNA damage as well as profound dendritic and synaptic phenotypes in brain and spinal cord. To provide insights into these defects, we screened neural genes for nucleotide oxidation and identified brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) as a target of FUS-R521C–associated DNA damage and RNA splicing defects in mice. Compared with WT FUS, mutant FUS-R521C proteins formed a more stable complex with Bdnf RNA in electrophoretic mobility shift assays. Stabilization of the FUS/Bdnf RNA complex contributed to Bdnf splicing defects and impaired BDNF signaling through receptor TrkB. Exogenous BDNF only partially restored dendrite phenotype in FUS-R521C neurons, suggesting that BDNF-independent mechanisms may contribute to the defects in these neurons. Indeed, RNA-seq analyses of FUS-R521C spinal cords revealed additional transcription and splicing defects in genes that regulate dendritic growth and synaptic functions. Together, our results provide insight into how gain-of-function FUS mutations affect critical neuronal functions.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is an incurable neurodegenerative disease characterized by abnormal motor movements, personality changes, and early death. HD is caused by a mutation in the IT-15 gene that expands abnormally the number of CAG nucleotide repeats. As a result, the translated protein huntingtin contains disease-causing expansions of glutamines (polyQ) that make it prone to misfold and aggregate. While the gene and mutations that cause HD are known, the mechanisms underlying HD pathogenesis are not. Here we will review the state of knowledge of HD, focusing especially on a hallmark pathological feature—intracellular aggregates of mutant Htt called inclusion bodies (IBs). We will describe the role of IBs in the disease. We speculate that IB formation could be just one component of a broader coping response triggered by misfolded Htt whose efficacy may depend on the extent to which it clears toxic forms of mutant Htt. We will describe how IB formation might be regulated and which factors could determine different coping responses in different subsets of neurons. A differential regulation of IB formation as a function of the cellular context could, eventually, explain part of the neuronal vulnerability observed in HD.
Huntington’s disease; aggregation; chaperons; ubiquitin proteasome system; autophagy; striatal vulnerability
In polyglutamine (polyQ) diseases, only certain neurons die, despite widespread expression of the offending protein. PolyQ expansion may induce neurodegeneration by impairing proteostasis, but protein aggregation and toxicity tend to confound conventional measurements of protein stability. Here, we used optical pulse labeling to measure effects of polyQ expansions on the mean lifetime of a fragment of huntingtin, the protein that causes Huntington's disease, in living neurons. We show that polyQ expansion reduced the mean lifetime of mutant huntingtin within a given neuron and that the mean lifetime varied among neurons, indicating differences in their capacity to clear the polypeptide. We found that neuronal longevity is predicted by the mean lifetime of huntingtin, as cortical neurons cleared mutant huntingtin faster and lived longer than striatal neurons. Thus, cell type–specific differences in turnover capacity may contribute to cellular susceptibility to toxic proteins, and efforts to bolster proteostasis in Huntington's disease, such as protein clearance, could be neuroprotective.
The activity-regulated cytoskeletal protein Arc/Arg3.1 is required for long-term memory formation and synaptic plasticity. Arc expression is robustly induced by activity, and Arc protein localizes both to active synapses and the nucleus. While its synaptic function has been examined, it is not clear why or how Arc is localized to the nucleus. We found that murine Arc nuclear expression is regulated by synaptic activity in vivo and in vitro. We identified distinct regions of Arc that control its localization, including a nuclear localization signal, a nuclear retention domain, and a nuclear export signal. Arc localization to the nucleus promotes an activity-induced increase in promyelocytic leukemia nuclear bodies, which decreases GluA1 transcription and synaptic strength. Finally, we show that Arc nuclear localization regulates homeostatic plasticity. Thus, Arc mediates the homeostatic response to increased activity by translocating to the nucleus, increasing promyelocytic leukemia levels, and decreasing GluA1 transcription, ultimately downscaling synaptic strength.
Selective neuronal loss is a hallmark of neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington’s disease (HD). Although mutant huntingtin, the protein responsible for HD, is expressed ubiquitously, a subpopulation of neurons in the striatum is the first to succumb. In this review, we examine evidence that protein quality control pathways, including the ubiquitin proteasome system, autophagy, and chaperones, are significantly altered in striatal neurons. These alterations may increase the susceptibility of striatal neurons to mutant huntingtin-mediated toxicity. This novel view of HD pathogenesis has profound therapeutic implications: protein homeostasis pathways in the striatum may be valuable targets for treating HD and other misfolded protein disorders.
striatum; proteostasis; autophagy; proteasome; Huntington’s disease
Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expanded stretch of CAG trinucleotide repeats that results in neuronal dysfunction and death. Here, the HD consortium reports the generation and characterization of 14 induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines from HD patients and controls. Microarray profiling revealed CAG expansion-associated gene expression patterns that distinguish patient lines from controls, and early onset versus late onset HD. Differentiated HD neural cells showed disease associated changes in electrophysiology, metabolism, cell adhesion, and ultimately cell death for lines with both medium and longer CAG repeat expansions. The longer repeat lines were however the most vulnerable to cellular stressors and BDNF withdrawal using a range of assays across consortium laboratories. The HD iPSC collection represents a unique and well-characterized resource to elucidate disease mechanisms in HD and provides a novel human stem cell platform for screening new candidate therapeutics.
Mammalian pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) represent an important venue for understanding basic principles regulating tissue-specific differentiation and discovering new tools that may facilitate clinical applications. Mechanisms that direct neural differentiation of PSCs involve growth factor signaling and transcription regulation. However, it is unknown whether and how electrical activity influences this process. Here we report a high throughput imaging-based screen, which uncovers that selamectin, an anti-helminthic therapeutic compound with reported activity on invertebrate glutamate-gated chloride channels, promotes neural differentiation of PSCs. We show that selamectin’s pro-neurogenic activity is mediated by γ2-containing GABAA receptors in subsets of neural rosette progenitors, accompanied by increased proneural and lineage-specific transcription factor expression and cell cycle exit. In vivo, selamectin promotes neurogenesis in developing zebrafish. Our results establish a chemical screening platform that reveals activity-dependent neural differentiation from PSCs. Compounds identified in this and future screening might prove therapeutically beneficial for treating neurodevelopmental or neurodegenerative disorders.
Pluripotent stem cells have the potential to become most of the cell types that make up an organism. However, the signals that trigger these cells to turn into neurons rather than lung cells or muscle cells, for example, are not fully understood. Proteins called growth factors are known to have a role in this process, as are transcription factors, but it is not clear if other factors are also involved.
In an attempt to identify additional mechanisms that could contribute to the formation of neurons, Sun et al. screened more than 2,000 small molecules for their ability to transform mouse pluripotent stem cells into neurons in cell culture. Surprisingly, they found that a compound called selamectin, which is used to treat parasitic flatworm infections, also triggered stem cells to turn into neurons.
Selamectin works by blocking a particular type of ion channel in flatworms, but this ion channel is not found in vertebrates, which means that selamectin must be promoting the formation of neurons in mice via a different mechanism. Given that a drug related to selamectin is known to act on a subtype of receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA, Sun et al. wondered whether these receptors—known as GABAA receptors—might also underlie the effects of selamectin. Consistent with this idea, drugs that increased GABAA activity stimulated the formation of neurons, whereas drugs that reduced GABAA function blocked the effects of selamectin.
In addition, Sun et al. showed that selamectin triggers human embryonic stem cells to become neurons, and that it also promotes the formation of new neurons in developing zebrafish in vivo. As well as revealing an additional mechanism for the formation of neurons from stem cells, the screening technique introduced by Sun et al. could help to identify further pro-neuronal molecules, which could aid the treatment of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders.
chemical genetics; small molecule tool; cellular differentiation; dopaminergic neurons; pluripotent stem cells; E. coli; Mouse; Zebrafish
Abnormal *polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts are the only common feature in nine proteins that each cause a dominant neurodegenerative disorder. In Huntington’s disease (HD), tracts longer than 36 glutamines in the protein huntingtin (htt) cause degeneration. In situ, monoclonal antibody 3B5H10 binds to different htt fragments in neurons in proportion to their toxicity. Here, we determined the structure of the 3B5H10 Fab to 1.9Å by x-ray crystallography. Modeling demonstrates that the paratope forms a groove suitable for binding two β-rich polyQ strands. Using small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS), we confirmed that the polyQ epitope recognized by 3B5H10 is a compact, two-stranded hairpin within monomeric htt and is abundant in htt fragments unbound to antibody. Thus, disease-associated polyQ stretches preferentially adopt compact conformations. Since 3B5H10 binding predicts degeneration, this compact polyQ structure may be neurotoxic.
Huntington's disease (HD) is the most common inherited neurodegenerative disease and is characterized by uncontrolled excessive motor movements and cognitive and emotional deficits. The mutation responsible for HD leads to an abnormally long polyglutamine (polyQ) expansion in the huntingtin (Htt) protein, which confers one or more toxic functions to mutant Htt leading to neurodegeneration. The polyQ expansion makes Htt prone to aggregate and accumulate, and manipulations that mitigate protein misfolding or facilitate the clearance of misfolded proteins tend to slow disease progression in HD models. This article will focus on HD and the evidence that it is a conformational disease.
Inherited polyQ mutations cause huntingtin to misfold and aggregate. This may overload the cell's chaperone network so other metastable proteins misfold, producing a complex loss-of-function phenotype that leads to neurodegeneration.
ALS is a devastating neurodegenerative disease primarily affecting motor neurons. Mutations in TDP-43 cause some forms of the disease, and cytoplasmic TDP-43 aggregates accumulate in degenerating neurons of most ALS patients. Thus, strategies aimed at targeting the toxicity of cytoplasmic TDP-43 aggregates may be effective. Here we report results from two genome-wide loss-of-function TDP-43 toxicity suppressor screens in yeast. The strongest suppressor of TDP-43 toxicity was deletion of Dbr1, which encodes RNA lariat debranching enzyme. We show that in the absence of Dbr1 enzymatic activity intronic lariats accumulate in the cytoplasm and likely act as decoys to sequester TDP-43 away from interfering with essential cellular RNAs and RNA-binding proteins. Knockdown of Dbr1 in a human neuronal cell line or in primary rodent neurons is also sufficient to rescue TDP-43 toxicity. Our findings provide insight into TDP-43 cytotoxicity and suggest decreasing Dbr1 activity could be a potential therapeutic approach for ALS.
In 2008 we published the first set of guidelines for standardizing research in autophagy. Since then, research on this topic has continued to accelerate, and many new scientists have entered the field. Our knowledge base and relevant new technologies have also been expanding. Accordingly, it is important to update these guidelines for monitoring autophagy in different organisms. Various reviews have described the range of assays that have been used for this purpose. Nevertheless, there continues to be confusion regarding acceptable methods to measure autophagy, especially in multicellular eukaryotes. A key point that needs to be emphasized is that there is a difference between measurements that monitor the numbers or volume of autophagic elements (e.g., autophagosomes or autolysosomes) at any stage of the autophagic process vs. those that measure flux through the autophagy pathway (i.e., the complete process); thus, a block in macroautophagy that results in autophagosome accumulation needs to be differentiated from stimuli that result in increased autophagic activity, defined as increased autophagy induction coupled with increased delivery to, and degradation within, lysosomes (in most higher eukaryotes and some protists such as Dictyostelium) or the vacuole (in plants and fungi). In other words, it is especially important that investigators new to the field understand that the appearance of more autophagosomes does not necessarily equate with more autophagy. In fact, in many cases, autophagosomes accumulate because of a block in trafficking to lysosomes without a concomitant change in autophagosome biogenesis, whereas an increase in autolysosomes may reflect a reduction in degradative activity. Here, we present a set of guidelines for the selection and interpretation of methods for use by investigators who aim to examine macroautophagy and related processes, as well as for reviewers who need to provide realistic and reasonable critiques of papers that are focused on these processes. These guidelines are not meant to be a formulaic set of rules, because the appropriate assays depend in part on the question being asked and the system being used. In addition, we emphasize that no individual assay is guaranteed to be the most appropriate one in every situation, and we strongly recommend the use of multiple assays to monitor autophagy. In these guidelines, we consider these various methods of assessing autophagy and what information can, or cannot, be obtained from them. Finally, by discussing the merits and limits of particular autophagy assays, we hope to encourage technical innovation in the field.
LC3; autolysosome; autophagosome; flux; lysosome; phagophore; stress; vacuole
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder and is characterized by the degeneration of dopaminergic (DA) neurons within the substantia nigra. Dopamine replacement drugs remain the most effective PD treatment but only provide temporary symptomatic relief. New therapies are urgently needed, but the search for a disease-modifying treatment and a definitive understanding of the underlying mechanisms of PD has been limited by the lack of physiologically relevant models that recapitulate the disease phenotype. The use of immortalized cell lines as in vitro model systems for drug discovery has met with limited success, since efficacy and safety too often fail to translate successfully in human clinical trials. Drug discoverers are shifting their focus to more physiologically relevant cellular models, including primary neurons and stem cells. The recent discovery of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology presents an exciting opportunity to derive human DA neurons from patients with sporadic and familial forms of PD. We anticipate that these human DA models will recapitulate key features of the PD phenotype. In parallel, high-content screening platforms, which extract information on multiple cellular features within individual neurons, provide a network-based approach that can resolve temporal and spatial relationships underlying mechanisms of neurodegeneration and drug perturbations. These emerging technologies have the potential to establish highly predictive cellular models that could bring about a desperately needed revolution in PD drug discovery.
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder with no disease modifying treatments available. The disease is caused by expansion of a CAG trinucleotide repeat and manifests with progressive motor abnormalities, psychiatric symptoms and cognitive decline. Expression of an expanded polyglutamine repeat within the Huntingtin (Htt) protein impacts numerous cellular processes, including protein folding and clearance. A hallmark of the disease is the progressive formation of inclusions that represent the culmination of a complex aggregation process. Methylene blue (MB) has been shown to modulate aggregation of amyloidogenic disease proteins. We investigated whether MB could impact mutant Htt-mediated aggregation and neurotoxicity. MB inhibited recombinant protein aggregation in vitro, even when added to preformed oligomers and fibrils. MB also decreased oligomer number and size and decreased accumulation of insoluble mutant Htt in cells. In functional assays, MB increased survival of primary cortical neurons transduced with mutant Htt, reduced neurodegeneration and aggregation in a Drosophila melanogaster model of HD, and reduced disease phenotypes in R6/2 HD modeled mice. Further, MB treatment also promoted an increase in levels of BDNF RNA and protein in vivo. Thus, MB, which is well tolerated and used in humans, has therapeutic potential for HD.
Despite years of incremental progress in our understanding of diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), Huntington's disease (HD), and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), there are still no disease-modifying therapeutics. The discrepancy between the number of lead compounds and approved drugs may partially be a result of the methods used to generate the leads and highlights the need for new technology to obtain more detailed and physiologically relevant information on cellular processes in normal and diseased states. Our high-throughput screening (HTS) system in a primary neuron model can help address this unmet need. HTS allows scientists to assay thousands of conditions in a short period of time which can reveal completely new aspects of biology and identify potential therapeutics in the span of a few months when conventional methods could take years or fail all together. HTS in primary neurons combines the advantages of HTS with the biological relevance of intact, fully differentiated neurons which can capture the critical cellular events or homeostatic states that make neurons uniquely susceptible to disease-associated proteins. We detail methodologies of our primary neuron HTS assay workflow from sample preparation to data reporting. We also discuss our adaptation of our HTS system into high-content screening (HCS), a type of HTS that uses multichannel fluorescence images to capture biological events in situ, and is uniquely suited to study dynamical processes in living cells.
Primary neuron; High-throughput microscopy; High-content screen; Neurodegeneration
Proteins prone to misfolding form large macroscopic deposits in many neurodegenerative diseases. Yet the in situ aggregation kinetics remains poorly understood because of an inability to demarcate precursor oligomers from monomers. We developed a novel strategy for mapping the localization of soluble oligomers and monomers directly in live cells. Sensors for mutant huntingtin, which forms aggregates in Huntington’s disease, were made by introducing a tetracysteine motif into huntingtin that becomes occluded from binding biarsenical fluorophores in oligomers, but not monomers. Up to 70% of the diffusely distributed huntingtin molecules appeared as submicroscopic oligomers in individual neuroblastoma cells expressing mutant huntingtin. We anticipate the sensors to enable insight into cellular mechanisms mediated by oligomers and monomers, and for the approach to be adaptable more generally in the study of protein-protein self-association.
ReAsH; FlAsH; protein aggregation; amyloid; polyglutamine; tri-nucleotide repeats
The promyelocytic leukemia (PML) protein is the main component of PML nuclear bodies, which have many functions in a wide range of cell types. Until recently, PML was not known to have a function in the nervous system or even be expressed in the brain. However, recent reports have changed that view. PML is found in neurons and functions in many aspects of the nervous system, including brain development, circadian rhythms, plasticity, and the response to proteins that cause neurodegenerative disorders. While the investigation of PML in the brain is still in its infancy, it promises to be a fascinating subject that will contribute to our understanding of the brain. Here we summarize what is known about PML expression and function in the brain and highlight both discrepancies in the field and areas that are particularly important to future research.
circadian rhythms; synaptic plasticity; Arc; neurodegeneration; neural progenitor cells; neocortex development; SCN; PML
The activity-regulated cytoskeletal (Arc) gene encodes a protein that is critical for memory consolidation. Arc is one of the most tightly regulated molecules known: neuronal activity controls Arc mRNA induction, trafficking, and accumulation, and Arc protein production, localization and stability. Arc regulates synaptic strength through multiple mechanisms and is involved in essentially every known form of synaptic plasticity. It also mediates memory formation and is implicated in multiple neurological diseases. In this review, we will discuss how Arc is regulated and used as a tool to study neuronal activity. We will also attempt to clarify how its molecular functions correspond to its requirement for various forms of plasticity, discuss Arc’s role in behavior and disease, and highlight critical unresolved questions.