Comment on: Gärtner A, et al. EMBO J 2012; 31:1893-903
N-cadherin; axon; centrosome; cortex; migration; neuronal polarity
Inherited familial Alzheimer's disease (AD) is characterized by small increases in the ratio of Aβ42 versus Aβ40 peptide which is thought to drive the amyloid plaque formation in the brain of these patients. Little is known however whether ageing, the major risk factor for sporadic AD, affects amyloid beta-peptide (Aβ) generation as well. Here we demonstrate that the secretion of Aβ is enhanced in an in vitro model of neuronal ageing, correlating with an increase in γ-secretase complex formation. Moreover we found that peroxynitrite (ONOO−), produced by the reaction of superoxide anion with nitric oxide, promoted the nitrotyrosination of presenilin 1 (PS1), the catalytic subunit of γ-secretase. This was associated with an increased association of the two PS1 fragments, PS1-CTF and PS1-NTF, which constitute the active catalytic centre. Furthermore, we found that peroxynitrite shifted the production of Aβ towards Aβ42 and increased the Aβ42/Aβ40 ratio. Our work identifies nitrosative stress as a potential mechanistic link between ageing and AD.
ageing; Alzheimer's disease; gamma-secretase; peroxynitrite; presenilin-1
Neuritogenesis, the first step of neuronal differentiation, takes place as nascent neurites bud from the immediate postmitotic neuronal soma. Little is known about the mechanisms underlying the dramatic morphological changes that characterize this event. Here, we show that RhoA activity plays a decisive role during neuritogenesis of cultured hippocampal neurons by recruiting and activating its specific kinase ROCK, which, in turn, complexes with profilin IIa. We establish that this previously uncharacterized brain-specific actin-binding protein controls neurite sprouting by modifying actin stability, a function regulated by ROCK-mediated phosphorylation. Furthermore, we determine that this novel cascade is switched on or off by physiological stimuli. We propose that RhoA/ROCK/PIIa-mediated regulation of actin stability, shown to be essential for neuritogenesis, may constitute a central mechanism throughout neuronal differentiation.
neuronal differentiation; hippocampal neurons; actin dynamics; Rho GTPases; actin-binding proteins
Single-particle tracking is a powerful tool for tracking individual particles with high precision. It provides useful information that allows the study of diffusion properties as well as the dynamics of movement. Changes in particle movement behavior, such as transitions between Brownian motion and temporary confinement, can reveal interesting biophysical interactions. Although useful applications exist to determine the paths of individual particles, only a few software implementations are available to analyze these data, and these implementations are generally not user-friendly and do not have a graphical interface,.
Here, we present APM_GUI (Analyzing Particle Movement), which is a MatLab-implemented application with a Graphical User Interface. This user-friendly application detects confined movement considering non-random confinement when a particle remains in a region longer than a Brownian diffusant would remain. In addition, APM_GUI exports the results, which allows users to analyze this information using software that they are familiar with.
APM_GUI provides an open-source tool that quantifies diffusion coefficients and determines whether trajectories have non-random confinements. It also offers a simple and user-friendly tool that can be used by individuals without programming skills.
Early in vitro and recent in vivo studies demonstrated that neuronal polarization occurs by the sequential formation of two oppositely located neurites. This early bipolar phenotype is of crucial relevance in brain organization, determining neuronal migration and brain layering. It is currently considered that the place of formation of the first neurite is dictated by extrinsic cues, through the induction of localized changes in membrane and cytoskeleton dynamics leading to deformation of the cells' curvature followed by the growth of a cylindrical extension (neurite). It is unknown if the appearance of the second neurite at the opposite pole, thus the formation of a bipolar cell axis and capacity to undergo migration, is defined by the growth at the first place, therefore intrinsic, or requires external determinants. We addressed this question by using a mathematical model based on the induction of dynamic changes in one pole of a round cell. The model anticipates that a second area of growth can spontaneously form at the opposite pole. Hence, through mathematical modeling we prove that neuronal bipolar axis of growth can be due to an intrinsic mechanism.
Binding of the neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) to the TrkB receptor is a major survival mechanism during embryonic development. In the aged brain, however, BDNF levels are low, suggesting that if TrkB is to play a role in survival at this stage additional mechanisms must have developed. We here show that TrkB activity is most robust in the hippocampus of 21-d-old BDNF-knockout mice as well as in old, wild-type, and BDNF heterozygous animals. Moreover, robust TrkB activity is evident in old but not young hippocampal neurons differentiating in vitro in the absence of any exogenous neurotrophin and also in neurons from BDNF −/− embryos. Age-associated increase in TrkB activity correlated with a mild yet progressive loss of cholesterol. This, in turn, correlated with increased expression of the cholesterol catabolic enzyme cholesterol 24-hydroxylase. Direct cause–effect, cholesterol loss–high TrkB activity was demonstrated by pharmacological means and by manipulating the levels of cholesterol 24-hydroxylase. Because reduced levels of cholesterol and increased expression of choleseterol-24-hydroxylase were also observed in the hippocampus of aged mice, changes in cellular cholesterol content may be used to modulate receptor activity strength in vivo, autonomously or as a way to complement the natural decay of neurotrophin production.
Actin is the major cytoskeletal source of dendritic spines, which are highly specialized protuberances on the neuronal surface where excitatory synaptic transmission occurs (Harris, K.M., and S.B. Kater. 1994. Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 17:341–371; Yuste, R., and D.W. Tank. 1996. Neuron. 16:701–716). Stimulation of excitatory synapses induces changes in spine shape via localized rearrangements of the actin cytoskeleton (Matus, A. 2000. Science. 290:754–758; Nagerl, U.V., N. Eberhorn, S.B. Cambridge, and T. Bonhoeffer. 2004. Neuron. 44:759–767). However, what remains elusive are the precise molecular mechanisms by which different neurotransmitter receptors forward information to the underlying actin cytoskeleton. We show that in cultured hippocampal neurons as well as in whole brain synaptosomal fractions, RhoA associates with glutamate receptors (GluRs) at the spine plasma membrane. Activation of ionotropic GluRs leads to the detachment of RhoA from these receptors and its recruitment to metabotropic GluRs. Concomitantly, this triggers a local reduction of RhoA activity, which, in turn, inactivates downstream kinase RhoA-specific kinase, resulting in restricted actin instability and dendritic spine collapse. These data provide a direct mechanistic link between neurotransmitter receptor activity and the changes in spine shape that are thought to play a crucial role in synaptic strength.
Rac3, a neuronal GTP-binding protein of the Rho family, induces neuritogenesis in primary neurons. Using yeast two-hybrid analysis, we show that Neurabin I, the neuronal F-actin binding protein, is a direct Rac3-interacting molecule. Biochemical and light microscopy studies indicate that Neurabin I copartitions and colocalizes with Rac3 at the growth cones of neurites, inducing Neurabin I association to the cytoskeleton. Moreover, Neurabin I antisense oligonucleotides abolish Rac3-induced neuritogenesis, which in turn is rescued by exogenous Neurabin I but not by Neurabin I mutant lacking the Rac3-binding domain. These results show that Neurabin I mediates Rac3-induced neuritogenesis, possibly by anchoring Rac3 to growth cone F-actin.
Recent experimental and clinical retrospective studies support the view that reduction of brain cholesterol protects against Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, genetic and pharmacological evidence indicates that low brain cholesterol leads to neurodegeneration. This apparent contradiction prompted us to analyze the role of neuronal cholesterol in amyloid peptide generation in experimental systems that closely resemble physiological and pathological situations. We show that, in the hippocampus of control human and transgenic mice, only a small pool of endogenous APP and its β-secretase, BACE 1, are found in the same membrane environment. Much higher levels of BACE 1–APP colocalization is found in hippocampal membranes from AD patients or in rodent hippocampal neurons with a moderate reduction of membrane cholesterol. Their increased colocalization is associated with elevated production of amyloid peptide. These results suggest that loss of neuronal membrane cholesterol contributes to excessive amyloidogenesis in AD and pave the way for the identification of the cause of cholesterol loss and for the development of specific therapeutic strategies.
Dendritic mRNA transport and local translation at individual potentiated synapses may represent an elegant way to form synaptic memory. Recently, we characterized Staufen, a double-stranded RNA-binding protein, in rat hippocampal neurons and showed its presence in large RNA-containing granules, which colocalize with microtubules in dendrites. In this paper, we transiently transfect hippocampal neurons with human Staufen-green fluorescent protein (GFP) and find fluorescent granules in the somatodendritic domain of these cells. Human Stau-GFP granules show the same cellular distribution and size and also contain RNA, as already shown for the endogenous Stau particles. In time-lapse videomicroscopy, we show the bidirectional movement of these Staufen-GFP–labeled granules from the cell body into dendrites and vice versa. The average speed of these particles was 6.4 μm/min with a maximum velocity of 24.3 μm/min. Moreover, we demonstrate that the observed assembly into granules and their subsequent dendritic movement is microtubule dependent. Taken together, we have characterized a novel, nonvesicular, microtubule-dependent transport pathway involving RNA-containing granules with Staufen as a core component. This is the first demonstration in living neurons of movement of an essential protein constituent of the mRNA transport machinery.
EEA1 is an early endosomal Rab5 effector protein that has been
implicated in the docking of incoming endocytic vesicles before fusion
with early endosomes. Because of the presence of complex endosomal
pathways in polarized and nonpolarized cells, we have examined the
distribution of EEA1 in diverse cell types. Ultrastructural analysis
demonstrates that EEA1 is present on a subdomain of the early sorting
endosome but not on clathrin-coated vesicles, consistent with a role in
providing directionality to early endosomal fusion. Furthermore, EEA1
is associated with filamentous material that extends from the
cytoplasmic surface of the endosomal domain, which is also consistent
with a tethering/docking role for EEA1. In polarized cells (Madin-Darby
canine kidney cells and hippocampal neurons), EEA1 is present on a
subset of “basolateral-type” endosomal compartments, suggesting
that EEA1 regulates specific endocytic pathways. In both epithelial
cells and fibroblastic cells, EEA1 and a transfected apical endosomal
marker, endotubin, label distinct endosomal populations. Hence, there
are at least two distinct sets of early endosomes in polarized and
nonpolarized mammalian cells. EEA1 could provide specificity and
directionality to fusion events occurring in a subset of these
endosomes in polarized and nonpolarized cells.
Neurons transport newly synthesized membrane proteins along axons by microtubule-mediated fast axonal transport. Membrane proteins destined for different axonal subdomains are thought to be transported in different transport carriers. To analyze this differential transport in living neurons, we tagged the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and synaptophysin (p38) with green fluorescent protein (GFP) variants. The resulting fusion proteins, APP-yellow fluorescent protein (YFP), p38-enhanced GFP, and p38-enhanced cyan fluorescent protein, were expressed in hippocampal neurons, and the cells were imaged by video microscopy. APP-YFP was transported in elongated tubules that moved extremely fast (on average 4.5 μm/s) and over long distances. In contrast, p38-enhanced GFP-transporting structures were more vesicular and moved four times slower (0.9 μm/s) and over shorter distances only. Two-color video microscopy showed that the two proteins were sorted to different carriers that moved with different characteristics along axons of doubly transfected neurons. Antisense treatment using oligonucleotides against the kinesin heavy chain slowed down the long, continuous movement of APP-YFP tubules and increased frequency of directional changes. These results demonstrate for the first time directly the sorting and transport of two axonal membrane proteins into different carriers. Moreover, the extremely fast-moving tubules represent a previously unidentified type of axonal carrier.
Alzheimer disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive decline of cognitive function that represents one of the most dramatic medical challenges for the aging population. Aβ peptides, generated by processing of the Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP), are thought to play a central role in the pathogenesis of AD. However, the network of physical and functional interactions that may affect their production and deposition is still poorly understood. The use of a bioinformatic approach based on human/mouse conserved coexpression allowed us to identify a group of genes that display an expression profile strongly correlated with APP. Among the most prominent candidates, we investigated whether the collagen chaperone HSP47 could be functionally correlated with APP. We found that HSP47 accumulates in amyloid deposits of two different mouse models and of some AD patients, is capable to physically interact with APP and can be relocalized by APP overexpression. Notably, we found that it is possible to reduce the levels of secreted Aβ peptides by reducing the expression of HSP47 or by interfering with its activity via chemical inhibitors. Our data unveil HSP47 as a new functional interactor of APP and imply it as a potential target for preventing the formation and/or growth amyloid plaques.