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author:("Kumar, ask")
1.  Specific Calpain Inhibition by Calpastatin Prevents Tauopathy and Neurodegeneration and Restores Normal Lifespan in Tau P301L Mice 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(28):9222-9234.
Tau pathogenicity in Alzheimer's disease and other tauopathies is thought to involve the generation of hyperphosphorylated, truncated, and oligomeric tau species with enhanced neurotoxicity, although the generative mechanisms and the implications for disease therapy are not well understood. Here, we report a striking rescue from mutant tau toxicity in the JNPL3 mouse model of tauopathy. We show that pathological activation of calpains gives rise to a range of potentially toxic forms of tau, directly, and by activating cdk5. Calpain overactivation in brains of these mice is accelerated as a result of the marked depletion of the endogenous calpain inhibitor, calpastatin. When levels of this inhibitor are restored in neurons of JNPL3 mice by overexpressing calpastatin, tauopathy is prevented, including calpain-mediated breakdown of cytoskeletal proteins, cdk5 activation, tau hyperphosphorylation, formation of potentially neurotoxic tau fragments by either calpain or caspase-3, and tau oligomerization. Calpastatin overexpression also prevents loss of motor axons, delays disease onset, and extends survival of JNPL3 mice by 3 months to within the range of normal lifespan. Our findings support the therapeutic promise of highly specific calpain inhibition in the treatment of tauopathies and other neurodegenerative states.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1132-14.2014
PMCID: PMC4087203  PMID: 25009256
ambulatory movements; calcium; fractionation; insoluble extracts; nesting behavior
2.  G9a-Mediated Histone Methylation Regulates Ethanol-Induced Neurodegeneration in the Neonatal Mouse Brain 
Neurobiology of disease  2013;54:475-485.
Rodent exposure to binge-like ethanol during postnatal day 7 (P7), which is comparable to the third trimester of human pregnancy, induces neuronal cell loss. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these neuronal losses are still poorly understood. Here, we tested the possibility of histone methylation mediated by G9a (lysine dimethyltransferase) in regulating neuronal apoptosis in P7 mice exposed to ethanol. G9a protein expression, which is higher during embryogenesis and synaptogenic period compared to adult brain, is entirely confined to the cell nuclei in the developing brain. We found that ethanol treatment at P7, which induces apoptotic neurodegeneration in neonatal mice, enhanced G9a activity followed by increased histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9me2) and 27 (H3K27me2) dimethylation. In addition, it appears that increased dimethylation of H3K9 makes it susceptible to proteolytic degradation by caspase-3 in conditions in which ethanol induces neurodegeneration. Further, pharmacological inhibition of G9a activity prior to ethanol treatment at P7 normalized H3K9me2, H3K27me2 and total H3 proteins to basal levels and prevented neurodegeneration in neonatal mice. Together, these data demonstrate that G9a mediated histone H3K9 and K27 dimethylation critically regulates ethanol-induced neurodegeneration in the developing brain. Furthermore, these findings reveal a novel link between G9a and neurodegeneration in the developing brain exposed to postnatal ethanol and may have a role in fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
doi:10.1016/j.nbd.2013.01.022
PMCID: PMC3656439  PMID: 23396011
Developing brain; Fetal alcohol syndrome; Methyltransferase; Neuronal loss; Bix
3.  Autophagy failure in Alzheimer’s disease and the role of defective lysosomal acidification 
The European journal of neuroscience  2013;37(12):1949-1961.
Autophagy is a lysosomal degradative process to recycle cellular waste and eliminate potentially toxic damaged organelles and protein aggregates. The important cytoprotective functions of autophagy are evidenced by the diverse pathogenic consequences that may stem from autophagy dysregulation in a growing number of neurodegenerative disorders. In many of the diseases associated with autophagy anomalies, it is the final stage of autophagy-lysosomal degradation that is disrupted. In several disorders, including AD, defective lysosomal acidification contributes to this proteolytic failure. The complex regulation of lysosomal pH makes this process vulnerable to disruption by many factors and reliable lysosomal pH measurements have become increasingly important in investigations of disease mechanisms. Although various reagents for pH quantification have been developed over several decades, they are not all equally well-suited for measuring the pH of lysosomes. Here, we evaluate the most commonly used pH probes for sensitivity and localization and identify Lysosensor Yellow/Blue-Dextran, among currently used probes, as having the most optimal profile of properties for measuring lysosomal pH. In addition, we review evidence that lysosomal acidification is defective in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and extend our original findings of elevated lysosomal pH in presenilin 1 (PS1)-deficient blastocysts and neurons to additional cell models of PS1- and PS1/2-deficiency, to fibroblasts from AD patients with PS1 mutations, and to neurons in the PS/APP mouse model of AD.
doi:10.1111/ejn.12169
PMCID: PMC3694736  PMID: 23773064
Autophagy; lysosome; neurodegeneration; pH; presenilin; v-ATPase
4.  Axonal transport rates in vivo are unaltered in htau mice 
Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD  2013;37(3):10.3233/JAD-130671.
Microtubule-based axonal transport is believed to become globally disrupted in Alzheimer’s disease in part due to alterations of tau expression or phosphorylation. We previously showed that axonal transport rates along retinal ganglion axons are unaffected by deletion of normal mouse tau or by overexpression of wild-type human tau. Here, we report that htau mice expressing 3-fold higher levels of human tau in the absence of mouse tau also display normal fast and slow transport kinetics despite the presence of abnormally hyperphosphorylated tau in some neurons. In addition, markers of slow transport (neurofilament light subunit) and fast transport (snap25) exhibit normal distributions along optic axons of these mice. These studies demonstrate that human tau overexpression, even when associated with a limited degree of tau pathology, does not necessarily impair general axonal transport function in vivo. This investigation is contributed for the issue of Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease dedicated to the memory of Inge Grunke-Iqbal and to the celebration of her contributions to Alzheimer’s disease research.
doi:10.3233/JAD-130671
PMCID: PMC3819434  PMID: 23948900
Tau; tauopathy; Alzheimer’s disease; neurofilament; slow axonal transport; fast axonal transport
5.  Elevation of GM2 ganglioside during ethanol-induced apoptotic neurodegeneration in the developing mouse brain 
Journal of Neurochemistry  2012;121(4):649-661.
GM2 ganglioside in the brain increased during ethanol-induced acute apoptotic neurodegeneration in 7-day-old mice. A small but a significant increase observed 2 h after ethanol exposure was followed by a marked increase around 24 h. Subcellular fractionation of the brain 24 h after ethanol treatment indicated that GM2 increased in synaptic and non-synaptic mitochondrial fractions as well as in a lysosome-enriched fraction characteristic to the ethanol-exposed brain. Immunohistochemical staining of GM2 in the ethanol-treated brain showed strong punctate staining mainly in activated microglia, in which it partially overlapped with staining for LAMP1, a late endosomal/lysosomal marker. Also, there was weaker neuronal staining, which partially co-localized with complex IV, a mitochondrial marker, and was augmented in cleaved caspase-3-positive neurons. In contrast, the control brain showed only faint and diffuse GM2 staining in neurons. Incubation of isolated brain mitochondria with GM2 in vitro induced cytochrome c release in a manner similar to that of GD3 ganglioside. Because ethanol is known to trigger mitochondria-mediated apoptosis with cytochrome c release and caspase-3 activation in the 7-day–old mouse brain, the GM2 elevation in mitochondria may be relevant to neuroapoptosis. Subsequently, activated microglia accumulated GM2, indicating a close relationship between GM2 and ethanol-induced neurodegeneration.
doi:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2012.07710.x
PMCID: PMC3325370  PMID: 22372857
GM2 ganglioside; ethanol; mitochondria; lysosome; activated microglia; apoptotic neurodegeneration
6.  Peripherin Is a Subunit of Peripheral Nerve Neurofilaments: Implications for Differential Vulnerability of CNS and PNS Axons 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2012;32(25):8501-8508.
Peripherin, a neuronal intermediate filament protein implicated in neurodegenerative disease, coexists with the neurofilament triplet proteins (NFL, NFM, and NFH) but has an unknown function. The earlier peak expression of peripherin than the triplet during brain development and its ability to form homopolymers, unlike the triplet, which are obligate heteropolymers, have supported a widely held view that peripherin and neurofilament triplet form separate filament systems. Here, we demonstrate, however, that despite a postnatal decline in expression, peripherin is as abundant as the triplet in the adult PNS and exists in a relatively fixed stoichiometry with these subunits. Peripherin exhibits a distribution pattern identical to those of triplet proteins in sciatic axons and co-localizes with NFL on single neurofilament by immunogold electron microscopy. Peripherin also co-assembles into a single network of filaments containing NFL, NFM, NFH with and without α-internexin in quadruple- or quintuple-transfected SW13 vim (−) cells. Genetically deleting NFL in mice dramatically reduces peripherin content in sciatic axons. Moreover, peripherin mutations has been shown to disrupt the neurofilament network in transfected SW13 vim(−) cells. These data show that peripherin and the neurofilament proteins are functionally interdependent. The results strongly support the view that rather than forming an independent structure, peripherin is a subunit of neurofilaments in the adult PNS. Our findings provide a basis for its close relationship with neurofilaments in PNS diseases associated with neurofilament accumulation.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1081-12.2012
PMCID: PMC3405552  PMID: 22723690
peripherin; neurofilament; intermediate filament; cytoskeleton; peripheral nerve; ALS; PNS
7.  The Exosome Secretory Pathway Transports Amyloid Precursor Protein Carboxyl-terminal Fragments from the Cell into the Brain Extracellular Space* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2012;287(51):43108-43115.
Background: Exosomes isolated in vitro contain full-length amyloid-β precursor protein (flAPP) and APP metabolites.
Results: Exosomes secreted in vivo in brains of wild-type and APP-overexpressing mice contain higher levels of APP C-terminal fragments (CTFs) relative to flAPP compared with brain tissue.
Conclusion: Brain exosomes are enriched with APP CTFs.
Significance: The exosome secretory pathway clears cellular APP CTFs, releasing the toxic fragments into the neuropil.
In vitro studies have shown that neuronal cell cultures secrete exosomes containing amyloid-β precursor protein (APP) and the APP-processing products, C-terminal fragments (CTFs) and amyloid-β (Aβ). We investigated the secretion of full-length APP (flAPP) and APP CTFs via the exosome secretory pathway in vivo. To this end, we developed a novel protocol designed to isolate exosomes secreted into mouse brain extracellular space. Exosomes with typical morphology were isolated from freshly removed mouse brains and from frozen mouse and human brain tissues, demonstrating that exosomes can be isolated from post-mortem tissue frozen for long periods of time. flAPP, APP CTFs, and enzymes that cleave both flAPP and APP CTFs were identified in brain exosomes. Although higher levels of both flAPP and APP CTFs were observed in exosomes isolated from the brains of transgenic mice overexpressing human APP (Tg2576) compared with wild-type control mice, there was no difference in the number of secreted brain exosomes. These data indicate that the levels of flAPP and APP CTFs associated with exosomes mirror the cellular levels of flAPP and APP CTFs. Interestingly, exosomes isolated from the brains of both Tg2576 and wild-type mice are enriched with APP CTFs relative to flAPP. Thus, we hypothesize that the exosome secretory pathway plays a pleiotropic role in the brain: exosome secretion is beneficial to the cell, acting as a specific releasing system of neurotoxic APP CTFs and Aβ, but the secretion of exosomes enriched with APP CTFs, neurotoxic proteins that are also a source of secreted Aβ, is harmful to the brain.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M112.404467
PMCID: PMC3522305  PMID: 23129776
Alzheimer Disease; Amyloid; Amyloid Precursor Protein; Endosomes; Exosomes; APP C-terminal Fragments; Amyloid-β
8.  The C-Terminal Domains of NF-H and NF-M Subunits Maintain Axonal Neurofilament Content by Blocking Turnover of the Stationary Neurofilament Network 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44320.
Newly synthesized neurofilaments or protofilaments are incorporated into a highly stable stationary cytoskeleton network as they are transported along axons. Although the heavily phosphorylated carboxyl-terminal tail domains of the heavy and medium neurofilament (NF) subunits have been proposed to contribute to this process and particularly to stability of this structure, their function is still obscure. Here we show in NF-H/M tail deletion [NF-(H/M)tailΔ] mice that the deletion of both of these domains selectively lowers NF levels 3–6 fold along optic axons without altering either rates of subunit synthesis or the rate of slow axonal transport of NF. Pulse labeling studies carried out over 90 days revealed a significantly faster rate of disappearance of NF from the stationary NF network of optic axons in NF-(H/M)tailΔ mice. Faster NF disappearance was accompanied by elevated levels of NF-L proteolytic fragments in NF-(H/M)tailΔ axons. We conclude that NF-H and NF-M C-terminal domains do not normally regulate NF transport rates as previously proposed, but instead increase the proteolytic resistance of NF, thereby stabilizing the stationary neurofilament cytoskeleton along axons.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044320
PMCID: PMC3448626  PMID: 23028520
9.  Therapeutic effects of remediating autophagy failure in a mouse model of Alzheimer disease by enhancing lysosomal proteolysis 
Autophagy  2011;7(7):788-789.
The extensive autophagic-lysosomal pathology in Alzheimer disease (AD) brain has revealed a major defect in the proteolytic clearance of autophagy substrates. Autophagy failure contributes on several levels to AD pathogenesis and has become an important therapeutic target for AD and other neurodegenerative diseases. We recently observed broad therapeutic effects of stimulating autophagic-lysosomal proteolysis in the TgCRND8 mouse model of AD that exhibits defective proteolytic clearance of autophagic substrates, robust intralysosomal amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) accumulation, extracellular β-amyloid deposition and cognitive deficits. By genetically deleting the lysosomal cysteine protease inhibitor, cystatin B (CstB), to selectively restore depressed cathepsin activities, we substantially cleared Aβ, ubiquitinated proteins and other autophagic substrates from autolysosomes/lysosomes and rescued autophagic-lysosomal pathology, as well as reduced total Aβ40/42 levels and extracellular amyloid deposition, highlighting the underappreciated importance of the lysosomal system for Aβ clearance. Most importantly, lysosomal remediation prevented the marked learning and memory deficits in TgCRND8 mice. Our findings underscore the pathogenic significance of autophagic-lysosomal dysfunction in AD and demonstrate the value of reversing this dysfunction as an innovative therapeutic strategy for AD.
doi:10.4161/auto.7.7.15596
PMCID: PMC3359468  PMID: 21464620
autophagy; lysosome; cathepsin; cystatin B; proteolysis; Alzheimer disease; transgenic
10.  Reversal of autophagy dysfunction in the TgCRND8 mouse model of Alzheimer's disease ameliorates amyloid pathologies and memory deficits 
Brain  2010;134(1):258-277.
Autophagy, a major degradative pathway for proteins and organelles, is essential for survival of mature neurons. Extensive autophagic-lysosomal pathology in Alzheimer’s disease brain contributes to Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis, although the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Here, we identified and characterized marked intraneuronal amyloid-β peptide/amyloid and lysosomal system pathology in the Alzheimer’s disease mouse model TgCRND8 similar to that previously described in Alzheimer’s disease brains. We further establish that the basis for these pathologies involves defective proteolytic clearance of neuronal autophagic substrates including amyloid-β peptide. To establish the pathogenic significance of these abnormalities, we enhanced lysosomal cathepsin activities and rates of autophagic protein turnover in TgCRND8 mice by genetically deleting cystatin B, an endogenous inhibitor of lysosomal cysteine proteases. Cystatin B deletion rescued autophagic-lysosomal pathology, reduced abnormal accumulations of amyloid-β peptide, ubiquitinated proteins and other autophagic substrates within autolysosomes/lysosomes and reduced intraneuronal amyloid-β peptide. The amelioration of lysosomal function in TgCRND8 markedly decreased extracellular amyloid deposition and total brain amyloid-β peptide 40 and 42 levels, and prevented the development of deficits of learning and memory in fear conditioning and olfactory habituation tests. Our findings support the pathogenic significance of autophagic-lysosomal dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease and indicate the potential value of restoring normal autophagy as an innovative therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease.
doi:10.1093/brain/awq341
PMCID: PMC3009842  PMID: 21186265
autophagy; lysosome; cystatin B; cathepsin; Alzheimer’s disease
11.  The contributions of myelin and axonal caliber to transverse relaxation time in shiverer and neurofilament-deficient mouse models 
NeuroImage  2010;51(3):1098-1105.
White matter disorders can involve injury to myelin or axons but the respective contribution of each to clinical course is difficult to evaluate non-invasively. Here, to develop a paradigm for further investigations of axonal pathology by MRI, we compared two genetic mouse models exhibiting relatively selective axonal or myelin deficits using quantitative MRI relaxography of the transverse relaxation times (T2) in vivo and ultrastructural morphometry. In HM-DKO mice, which lack genes encoding the heavy (NF-H) and medium (NF-M) subunits of neurofilaments, neurofilament content of large myelinated axons of the central nervous system (CNS) is markedly reduced in the absence of changes in myelin thickness and volume. In shiverer mutant mice, which lack functional myelin basic protein, CNS myelin sheath formation is markedly reduced but neurofilament content is normal. We observed increases in T2 in nearly all white matter in Shiverer mice compared to their wild type, while more subtle increases in T2 were observed in HM-DKO in the corpus callosum. White matter T2 was generally greater in Shiverer mice than HM-DKO mice. Ultrastructural morphometry of the corpus callosum, which exhibited the greatest T2 differences, confirmed that total cross sectional area occupied by axons was similar in the two mouse models and that the major ultrastructural differences, determined by morphometry, were an absence of myelin and larger unmyelinated axons in shiverer mice and absence of neurofilaments in HM-DKO mice. Our findings indicate that T2 is strongly influenced by myelination state and axonal volume, while neurofilament structure within the intra-axonal compartment has a lesser effect upon single compartment T2 estimates.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.03.013
PMCID: PMC2862816  PMID: 20226865
T2 relaxation; iron; white matter; neurofilament; microtubules; myelin; shiverer mice
12.  A selective role for ARMS/Kidins220 scaffold protein in spatial memory and trophic support of entorhinal and frontal cortical neurons 
Experimental neurology  2011;229(2):409-420.
Progressive cortical pathology is common to several neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. The entorhinal cortex (EC) and frontal cortex (FC) are particularly vulnerable, and neurotrophins have been implicated because they appear to be protective. A downstream signal transducer of neurotrophins, the ankyrin repeat-rich membrane spanning scaffold protein/Kidins 220 (ARMS) is expressed in the cortex, where it could play an important role in trophic support. To test this hypothesis, we evaluated mice with a heterozygous deletion of ARMS (ARMS+/− mice). Remarkably, the EC and FC were the regions that demonstrated the greatest defects. Many EC and FC neurons became pyknotic in ARMS+/− mice, so that large areas of the EC and FC were affected by 12 months of age. Areas with pyknosis in the EC and FC of ARMS+/− mice were also characterized by a loss of immunoreactivity to a neuronal antigen, NeuN, which has been reported after insult or injury to cortical neurons. Electron microscopy showed that there were defects in mitochondria, myelination, and multilamellar bodies in the EC and FC of ARMS+/− mice. Although primarily restricted to the EC and FC, pathology appeared to be sufficient to cause functional impairments, because ARMS+/− mice performed worse than wild-type on the Morris water maze. Comparisons of males and females showed that female mice were the affected sex in all comparisons. Taken together, the results suggest that the expression of a prominent neurotrophin receptor substrate normally protects the EC and FC, and that ARMS may be particularly important in females.
doi:10.1016/j.expneurol.2011.03.008
PMCID: PMC3100364  PMID: 21419124
BDNF; Neurotrophin; Sex differences; Spatial memory; Myelin; Oxidative stress
13.  The Myosin Va Head Domain Binds to the Neurofilament-L Rod and Modulates Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER) Content and Distribution within Axons 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17087.
The neurofilament light subunit (NF-L) binds to myosin Va (Myo Va) in neurons but the sites of interaction and functional significance are not clear. We show by deletion analysis that motor domain of Myo Va binds to the NF-L rod domain that forms the NF backbone. Loss of NF-L and Myo Va binding from axons significantly reduces the axonal content of ER, and redistributes ER to the periphery of axon. Our data are consistent with a novel function for NFs as a scaffold in axons for maintaining the content and proper distribution of vesicular organelles, mediated in part by Myo Va. Based on observations that the Myo Va motor domain binds to intermediate filament (IF) proteins of several classes, Myo Va interactions with IFs may serve similar roles in organizing organelle topography in different cell types.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017087
PMCID: PMC3040190  PMID: 21359212
14.  Induction of Autophagy by Cystatin C: A Mechanism That Protects Murine Primary Cortical Neurons and Neuronal Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(3):e9819.
Cystatin C (CysC) expression in the brain is elevated in human patients with epilepsy, in animal models of neurodegenerative conditions, and in response to injury, but whether up-regulated CysC expression is a manifestation of neurodegeneration or a cellular repair response is not understood. This study demonstrates that human CysC is neuroprotective in cultures exposed to cytotoxic challenges, including nutritional-deprivation, colchicine, staurosporine, and oxidative stress. While CysC is a cysteine protease inhibitor, cathepsin B inhibition was not required for the neuroprotective action of CysC. Cells responded to CysC by inducing fully functional autophagy via the mTOR pathway, leading to enhanced proteolytic clearance of autophagy substrates by lysosomes. Neuroprotective effects of CysC were prevented by inhibiting autophagy with beclin 1 siRNA or 3-methyladenine. Our findings show that CysC plays a protective role under conditions of neuronal challenge by inducing autophagy via mTOR inhibition and are consistent with CysC being neuroprotective in neurodegenerative diseases. Thus, modulation of CysC expression has therapeutic implications for stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009819
PMCID: PMC2843718  PMID: 20352108
15.  Neurofilaments form a Highly Stable Stationary Cytoskeleton After Reaching a Critical Level in Axons 
The ultrastructural view of the axonal cytoskeleton as an extensively crosslinked network of neurofilaments (NFs) and other cytoskeletal polymers contrasts with the dynamic view suggested by axonal transport studies on cytoskeletal elements. Here we reconcile these perspectives by showing that neurons form a large NF network along axons which is unequivocally stationary, metabolically stable, and maintained by NFs and non-filamentous subunit assemblies undergoing slow transport by intermittent rapid movements and pauses. In mouse primary cortical neurons transfected with EGFP-NFL, formation of this stationary NF network requires a critical level of NFs, which explains its absence in NF-poor developing neurons studied previously. Most NFs at proximal axon regions were in a stationary structure coexisting with a smaller pool of moving EGFP-NFL assemblies that were mainly non-filamentous. Distally along the same axon, EGFP-labeled NFL was much less abundant and we detected only short filaments moving bidirectionally by slow transport (rapid movements and pauses) as previously described. In living mice, >25% of radiolabeled newly synthesized NFs remained in optic axons after slowly transport NFs had exited. Retained NF remained fixed over several months in a non-uniform distribution and exhibited exceptionally slow turnover (t 1/2 > 2.5 months), implying that, at steady state, >90% of NFs in mature optic axons comprise the stationary cytoskeleton and <10% are undergoing slow transport. These findings reconcile in vitro and in vivo axonal transport observations, showing that slowly transport NFs or subunit oligomers are precursors to a highly stable stationary cytoskeletal network that supports mature axons.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1942-09.2009
PMCID: PMC2788791  PMID: 19741138
neurofilament deposition; stationary network; NFH; EGFP-NFL; cortical neurons; RGC axons
16.  Axonal Transport Rates In Vivo Are Unaffected by Tau Deletion or Overexpression in Mice 
Elevated tau expression has been proposed as a possible basis for impaired axonal transport in Alzheimer’s disease. To address this hypothesis, we analyzed the movement of pulse radiolabeled proteins in vivo along retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons of mice that lack tau or overexpress human tau isoforms. Here, we show that the global axonal transport rates of slow and fast transport cargoes in axons are not significantly impaired when tau expression is eliminated or increased. In addition, markers of slow transport (neurofilament light subunit) and fast transport (snap25) do not accumulate in retinas and are distributed normally along optic axons in mice that lack or overexpress tau. Finally, ultrastructural analyses revealed no abnormal accumulations of vesicular organelles or neurofilaments in RGC perikarya or axons in mice overexpressing or lacking tau. These results suggest that tau is not essential for axonal transport and that transport rates in vivo are not significantly affected by substantial fluctuations in tau expression.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5242-07.2008
PMCID: PMC2814454  PMID: 18272688
tau; Alzheimer’s disease; neurofilament; snap25; slow axonal transport; fast axonal transport
17.  Anesthesia-induced hyperphosphorylation detaches 3-repeat tau from microtubules without affecting their stability in vivo 
In Alzheimer’s disease, tau is hyperphosphorylated, which is thought to detach it from microtubules (MTs), induce MT destabilization, and promote aggregation. Using a previously described in vivo model, we investigated whether hyperphosphorylation impacts tau function in wild-type and transgenic mice. We found that following anesthesia-induced hypothermia, MT-free tau was hyperphosphorylated, which impaired its ability to bind MTs and promote MT assembly. MT-bound tau was more resistant to hyperphosphorylation compared to free tau and tau did not dissociate from MTs in wild-type mice. However, 3-repeat tau detached from MT in the transgenic mice. Surprisingly, dissociation of tau from MTs did not lead to overt depolymerization of tubulin, and there was no collapse, or disturbance of axonal MT networks. These results indicate that, in vivo, a sub-population of tau bound to MTs does not easily dissociate under conditions that extensively phosphorylate tau. Tau remaining on the MTs under these conditions is sufficient to maintain MT network integrity.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4101-08.2008
PMCID: PMC2610528  PMID: 19036972
tau phosphorylation; microtubules; Alzheimer’s disease; anesthesia; hypothermia; tubulin
18.  Autophagy Induction and Autophagosome Clearance in Neurons: Relationship to Autophagic Pathology in Alzheimer's Disease 
Macroautophagy, a major pathway for organelle and protein turnover, has been implicated in the neurodegeneration of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The basis for the profuse accumulation of autophagic vacuoles (AVs) in affected neurons of the AD brain, however, is unknown. In this study, we show that constitutive macroautophagy in primary cortical neurons is highly efficient, as newly formed autophagosomes are rapidly cleared by fusion with lysosomes, accounting for their scarcity in the healthy brain. Even after macroautophagy is strongly induced by suppressing mTOR kinase activity with rapamycin or nutrient deprivation, active cathepsin-positive autolysosomes rather than LC3-II-positive autophagosomes predominate, implying efficient autophagosome clearance in healthy neurons. By contrast, selectively impeding late steps in macroautophagy by inhibiting cathepsin-mediated proteolysis within autophagosomes with cysteine- and aspartyl-protease inhibitors caused a marked accumulation of electron-dense double membrane-limited AVs, containing cathepsin D and incompletely degraded LC3-II in perikarya and neurites. Similar structures accumulated in large numbers when fusion of autophagosomes with lysosomes was slowed by disrupting their transport on microtubules with vinblastine. Finally, we find that the autophagic vacuoles accumulating after protease inhibition or prolonged vinblastine treatment strongly resembled AVs that collect in dystrophic neurites in the AD brain and in an AD mouse model. We conclude that macroautophagy is constitutively active and highly efficient in healthy neurons, and that the autophagic pathology observed in AD most likely arises from impaired clearance of AVs rather than strong autophagy induction alone. Therapeutic modulation of autophagy in AD may, therefore, require targeting late steps in the autophagic pathway.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0800-08.2008
PMCID: PMC2676733  PMID: 18596167
Aging [Ageing]; Alzheimer; Autophagy; Culture; Lysosome; Neuron; Neuron Death; neuronal death; Neuropathology; neuroprotection; Neurotoxicity; Storage
19.  Macroautophagy—a novel β-amyloid peptide-generating pathway activated in Alzheimer's disease 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2005;171(1):87-98.
Macroautophagy, which is a lysosomal pathway for the turnover of organelles and long-lived proteins, is a key determinant of cell survival and longevity. In this study, we show that neuronal macroautophagy is induced early in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and before β-amyloid (Aβ) deposits extracellularly in the presenilin (PS) 1/Aβ precursor protein (APP) mouse model of β-amyloidosis. Subsequently, autophagosomes and late autophagic vacuoles (AVs) accumulate markedly in dystrophic dendrites, implying an impaired maturation of AVs to lysosomes. Immunolabeling identifies AVs in the brain as a major reservoir of intracellular Aβ. Purified AVs contain APP and β-cleaved APP and are highly enriched in PS1, nicastrin, and PS-dependent γ-secretase activity. Inducing or inhibiting macroautophagy in neuronal and nonneuronal cells by modulating mammalian target of rapamycin kinase elicits parallel changes in AV proliferation and Aβ production. Our results, therefore, link β-amyloidogenic and cell survival pathways through macroautophagy, which is activated and is abnormal in AD.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200505082
PMCID: PMC2171227  PMID: 16203860
20.  The neurofilament middle molecular mass subunit carboxyl-terminal tail domains is essential for the radial growth and cytoskeletal architecture of axons but not for regulating neurofilament transport rate 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2003;163(5):1021-1031.
The phosphorylated carboxyl-terminal “tail” domains of the neurofilament (NF) subunits, NF heavy (NF-H) and NF medium (NF-M) subunits, have been proposed to regulate axon radial growth, neurofilament spacing, and neurofilament transport rate, but direct in vivo evidence is lacking. Because deletion of the tail domain of NF-H did not alter these axonal properties (Rao, M.V., M.L. Garcia, Y. Miyazaki, T. Gotow, A. Yuan, S. Mattina, C.M. Ward, N.S. Calcutt, Y. Uchiyama, R.A. Nixon, and D.W. Cleveland. 2002. J. Cell Biol. 158:681–693), we investigated possible functions of the NF-M tail domain by constructing NF-M tail–deleted (NF-MtailΔ) mutant mice using an embryonic stem cell–mediated “gene knockin” approach that preserves normal ratios of the three neurofilament subunits. Mutant NF-MtailΔ mice exhibited severely inhibited radial growth of both motor and sensory axons. Caliber reduction was accompanied by reduced spacing between neurofilaments and loss of long cross-bridges with no change in neurofilament protein content. These observations define distinctive functions of the NF-M tail in regulating axon caliber by modulating the organization of the neurofilament network within axons. Surprisingly, the average rate of axonal transport of neurofilaments was unaltered despite these substantial effects on axon morphology. These results demonstrate that NF-M tail–mediated interactions of neurofilaments, independent of NF transport rate, are critical determinants of the size and cytoskeletal architecture of axons, and are mediated, in part, by the highly phosphorylated tail domain of NF-M.
doi:10.1083/jcb.200308076
PMCID: PMC2173612  PMID: 14662746
NF-M phosphorylation; axonal transport; microtubules; ES cells; gene knockin
21.  Recovery and Identification of West Nile Virus from a Hawk in Winter 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2000;38(8):3110-3111.
West Nile virus was recovered from the brain of a red-tailed hawk that died in Westchester County, N.Y., in February 2000. Multiple foci of glial cells, lymphocytes, and a few pyknotic nuclei were observed in the brain. Three to 4 days after inoculation of Vero cells with brain homogenates, cytopathic changes were detected. The presence of West Nile virus antigen in fixed cells or cell lysates was revealed by fluorescent antibody testing or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively. Furthermore, Reverse transcriptase-PCR with primers specific for the NS3 gene of West Nile virus resulted in an amplicon of the expected size (470 bp). Electron microscopy of thin sections of infected Vero cells revealed the presence of viral particles approximately 40 nm in diameter, within cytoplasmic vesicles. The demonstration of infection with the West Nile virus in the dead of the winter, long after mosquitoes ceased to be active, is significant in that it testifies to the survival of the virus in the region beyond mosquito season and suggests another route of transmission: in this case, prey to predator.
PMCID: PMC87202  PMID: 10921991

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