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1.  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.
PMCID: PMC3405552  PMID: 22723690
peripherin; neurofilament; intermediate filament; cytoskeleton; peripheral nerve; ALS; PNS
2.  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.
PMCID: PMC3359468  PMID: 21464620
autophagy; lysosome; cathepsin; cystatin B; proteolysis; Alzheimer disease; transgenic
3.  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.
PMCID: PMC3009842  PMID: 21186265
autophagy; lysosome; cystatin B; cathepsin; Alzheimer’s disease
4.  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.
PMCID: PMC2862816  PMID: 20226865
T2 relaxation; iron; white matter; neurofilament; microtubules; myelin; shiverer mice
5.  Marked Calpastatin (CAST) Depletion in Alzheimer’s Disease Accelerates Cytoskeleton Disruption and Neurodegeneration: Neuroprotection by CAST Overexpression 
Increased activity of calpains is implicated in synaptic dysfunction and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The molecular mechanisms responsible for increased calpain activity in AD are not known. Here, we demonstrate that disease progression is propelled by a marked depletion of the endogenous calpain inhibitor, calpastatin (CAST), from AD neurons, which is mediated by caspase-1, caspase-3, and calpains. Initial CAST depletion focally along dendrites coincides topographically with calpain II and ERK 1/2 activation, tau cleavage by caspase-3, and tau and neurofilament hyperphosphorylation. These same changes, together with cytoskeletal proteolysis and neuronal cell death, accompany CAST depletion after intrahippocampal kainic acid administration to mice, and are substantially reduced in mice overexpressing human CAST. Moreover, CAST reduction by shRNA in neuronal cells causes calpain-mediated death at levels of calcium-induced injury that are sublethal to cells normally expressing CAST. Our results strongly support a novel hypothesis that CAST depletion by multiple abnormally activated proteases accelerates calpain dysregulation in AD leading to cytoskeleton disruption and neurodegeneration. CAST mimetics may, therefore, be neuroprotective in AD.
PMCID: PMC2819018  PMID: 19020018
apoptosis; caspase; calpain; tau; cdk5; ERK
6.  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.
PMCID: PMC2171227  PMID: 16203860

Results 1-6 (6)