microRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression by targeting specific mRNAs. Altered expression of circulating miRNAs have been associated with age-related diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease. Although we and others have found an age-dependent decrease in miRNA expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), little is known about the role of circulating miRNAs in human aging. Here, we examined miRNA expression in human serum from young (mean age 30 years) and old (mean age 64 years) individuals using next generation sequencing technology and real-time quantitative PCR. Of the miRNAs that we found to be present in serum, three were significantly decreased in 20 older individuals compared to 20 younger individuals: miR-151a-5p, miR-181a-5p and miR-1248. Consistent with our data in humans, these miRNAs are also present at lower levels in the serum of elderly rhesus monkeys. In humans, miR-1248 was found to regulate the expression of mRNAs involved in inflammatory pathways and miR-181a was found to correlate negatively with the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNFα and to correlate positively with the anti-inflammatory cytokines TGFβ and IL-10. These results suggest that circulating miRNAs may be a biological marker of aging and could also be important for regulating longevity. Identification of stable miRNA biomarkers in serum could have great potential as a noninvasive diagnostic tool as well as enhance our understanding of physiological changes that occur with age.
circulating; miRNA; noncoding RNA; age; aging; biomarker; exRNA; extracellular RNA
To simulate transient B cell activation that is the likely initiator of T-dependent responses, we examined the molecular and functional consequences of a single-round of immunoglobulin M (IgM) signaling. This form of activation triggered early cytosolic signaling and the transcription factor NF-κB activation indistinguishably from conventional continuous IgM cross-linking, but did not induce G1 progression. However, single-round IgM signaling changed the expression of chemokine and chemokine receptor genes implicated in initiating T-dependent responses, as well as accentuated responsiveness to CD40 signaling. Several features of single-round IgM signaling in vitro were recapitulated in B cells after short-term exposure to antigen in vivo. We propose that transient BCR signals prime B cells to receive T cell help by increasing the probability of B-T encounter and creating a cellular environment that is hyper-responsive to CD40 signaling.
Activity-dependent modulation of neuronal gene expression promotes neuronal survival and plasticity, and neuronal network activity is perturbed in aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Here we show that cerebral cortical neurons respond to chronic suppression of excitability by downregulating the expression of genes and their encoded proteins involved in inhibitory transmission (GABAergic and somatostatin) and Ca2+ signaling; alterations in pathways involved in lipid metabolism and energy management are also features of silenced neuronal networks. A molecular fingerprint strikingly similar to that of diminished network activity occurs in the human brain during aging and in AD, and opposite changes occur in response to activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) receptors in cultured cortical neurons and in mice in response to an enriched environment or electroconvulsive shock. Our findings suggest that reduced inhibitory neurotransmission during aging and in AD may be the result of compensatory responses that, paradoxically, render the neurons vulnerable to Ca2+-mediated degeneration.
Alzheimer’s disease; Aging; GABA; Activity; Homeostatic disinhibition; Interneuron; Calcium; Synaptic scaling
Microglia are the resident mononuclear phagocytes of the CNS parenchyma and represent an initial line of defense against invading microorganisms. Microglia utilize Toll-like receptors (TLRs) for pathogen recognition and TLR2 specifically senses conserved motifs of Gram-positive bacteria including lipoproteins, lipoteichoic acids, and peptidoglycan (PGN) leading to cytokine/chemokine production. Interestingly, primary microglia derived from TLR2 knockout (KO) mice over-expressed numerous IL-12 family members, including IL-12p40, IL-12p70, and IL-27 in response to intact S. aureus, but not the less structurally complex TLR2 ligands Pam3CSK4 or PGN. The ability of intact bacteria to augment IL-12 family member expression was specific for Gram-positive organisms since numerous Gram-negative strains were unable to elicit exaggerated responses in TLR2 KO microglia. Inhibition of SYK or IRAK4 signaling did not impact heightened IL-12 family member production in S. aureus-treated TLR2 KO microglia, whereas PI3K, MAPK, and JNK inhibitors were all capable of restoring exaggerated cytokine expression to WT levels. Additionally, elevated IL-12 production in TLR2 KO microglia was ablated by a TLR9 antagonist, suggesting that TLR9 drives IL-12 family member production following exposure to intact bacteria that remains unchecked in the absence of TLR2 signaling. Collectively, these findings indicate crosstalk between TLR2 and TLR9 pathways to regulate IL-12 family member production by microglia. The summation of TLR signals must be tightly controlled to ensure the timely cessation and/or fine tuning of cytokine signaling to avoid non-specific bystander damage due to sustained IL-12 release.
S. aureus; TLR2; TLR9; microglia; MAPK; JNK; PI3K
Age associated immune dysregulation results in a pro-inflammatory state and increased susceptibility to infections and autoimmune diseases. Studies show that signaling initiated at the T cell antigen receptor (TCR) is impaired in CD4+ T cells from old compared to young mice. Here we examined TCR-inducible gene expression changes in CD4+ T cells during human aging. We reveal a dichotomy in gene expression mediated by the inducible transcription factor NF-κB. Most NF-κB target genes are not induced in a sustained manner in cells derived from older compared to younger individuals. However, a subset of NF-κB target genes including genes associated with chronic pro-inflammatory state in the elderly, such as interleukin 1 and 6, continue to be up-regulated even in the absence of NF-κB induction. In addition, we identify other widespread changes in gene expression between cells derived from older and younger individuals. Surprisingly, many of the most noteworthy age-associated changes in human CD4+ T cells differ from those seen in murine models. Our studies provide the first view of age-associated alteration of TCR-inducible gene expression in human CD4+ T cells.
human; CD4+ T cell; NF-κB; aging; aene expression
SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling enzymes play a critical role in the development of T helper lymphocytes, including Th2 cells, and directly program chromatin structure at Th2 cytokine genes. Different versions of SWI/SNF complexes, including BAF and PBAF, have been described based on unique subunit composition. However, the relative role of BAF and PBAF in Th cell function and cytokine expression has not been reported.
Here we examine the role of the PBAF SWI/SNF complex in Th cell development and gene expression using mice deficient for a PBAF-specific component, BAF180. We find that T cell development in the thymus and lymphoid periphery is largely normal when the BAF180 gene is deleted late in thymic development. However, BAF180-deficient Th2 cells express high levels of the immunoregulatory cytokine IL-10. BAF180 binds directly to regulatory elements in the Il-10 locus but is replaced by BAF250 BAF complexes in the absence of BAF180, resulting in increased histone acetylation and CBP recruitment to the IL-10 locus.
These results demonstrate that BAF180 is a repressor of IL-10 transcription in Th2 cells and suggest that the differential recruitment of different SWI/SNF subtypes can have direct consequences on chromatin structure and gene transcription.
T helper cell differentiation and activation require specific transcriptional programs accompanied by changes in chromatin structure. However, little is known about the chromatin remodeling enzymes responsible. We performed genome-wide analysis to determine the general principles of BRG1 binding, followed by analysis of specific genes to determine whether these general rules were typical of key T cell genes. We found that binding of the remodeling protein BRG1 was programmed by both lineage and activation signals. BRG1 binding positively correlated with gene activity at protein-coding and microRNA (miRNA) genes. BRG1 binding was found at promoters and distal regions, including both novel and previously validated distal regulatory elements. Distal BRG1 binding correlated with expression, and novel distal sites in the Gata3 locus possessed enhancer-like activity, suggesting a general role for BRG1 in long-distance gene regulation. BRG1 recruitment to distal sites in Gata3 was impaired in cells lacking STAT6, a transcription factor that regulates lineage-specific genes. Together, these findings suggest that BRG1 interprets both differentiation and activation signals and plays a causal role in gene regulation, chromatin structure, and cell fate. Our findings suggest that BRG1 binding is a useful marker for identifying active cis-regulatory regions in protein-coding and miRNA genes.
CHD5 is frequently deleted in neuroblastoma and is a tumor suppressor gene. However, little is known about the role of CHD5 other than it is homologous to chromatin remodeling ATPases. We found CHD5 mRNA was restricted to the brain; by contrast, most remodeling ATPases were broadly expressed. CHD5 protein isolated from mouse brain was associated with HDAC2, p66ß, MTA3 and RbAp46 in a megadalton complex. CHD5 protein was detected in several rat brain regions and appeared to be enriched in neurons. CHD5 protein was predominantly nuclear in primary rat neurons and brain sections. Microarray analysis revealed genes that were upregulated and downregulated when CHD5 was depleted from primary neurons. CHD5 depletion altered expression of neuronal genes, transcription factors, and brain-specific subunits of the SWI/SNF remodeling enzyme. Expression of gene sets linked to aging and Alzheimer's disease were strongly altered by CHD5 depletion from primary neurons. Chromatin immunoprecipitation revealed CHD5 bound to these genes, suggesting the regulation was direct. Together, these results indicate that CHD5 protein is found in a NuRD-like multi-protein complex. CHD5 expression is restricted to the brain, unlike the closely related family members CHD3 and CHD4. CHD5 regulates expression of neuronal genes, cell cycle genes and remodeling genes. CHD5 is linked to regulation of genes implicated in aging and Alzheimer's disease.
Claudins are tight junction proteins that are involved in tight junction formation and function. Previous studies have shown that claudin-7 is frequently upregulated in epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) along with claudin-3 and claudin-4. Here, we investigate in detail the expression patterns of claudin-7, as well as its possible functions in EOC.
A total of 95 ovarian tissue samples (7 normal ovarian tissues, 65 serous carcinomas, 11 clear cell carcinomas, 8 endometrioid carcinomas and 4 mucinous carcinomas) were studied for claudin-7 expression. In real-time RT-PCR analysis, the gene for claudin-7, CLDN7, was found to be upregulated in all the tumor tissue samples studied. Similarly, immunohistochemical analysis and western blotting showed that claudin-7 protein was significantly overexpressed in the vast majority of EOCs. Small interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of claudin-7 in ovarian cancer cells led to significant changes in gene expression as measured by microarrays and validated by RT-PCR and immunoblotting. Analyses of the genes differentially expressed revealed that the genes altered in response to claudin-7 knockdown were associated with pathways implicated in various molecular and cellular functions such as cell cycle, cellular growth and proliferation, cell death, development, and cell movement. Through functional experiments in vitro, we found that both migration and invasion were altered in cells where CLDN7 had been knocked down or overexpressed. Interestingly, claudin-7 expression was associated with a net increase in invasion, but also with a decrease in migration.
Our work shows that claudin-7 is significantly upregulated in EOC and that it may be functionally involved in ovarian carcinoma invasion. CLDN7 may therefore represent potential marker for ovarian cancer detection and a target for therapy.
Hormesis occurs when a low level stress elicits adaptive beneficial responses that protect against subsequent exposure to severe stress. Recent findings suggest that mild oxidative and thermal stress can extend lifespan by hormetic mechanisms. Here we show that the botanical pesticide plumbagin, while toxic to C. elegans nematodes at high doses, extends lifespan at low doses. Because plumbagin is a naphthoquinone that can generate free radicals in vivo, we investigated whether it extends lifespan by activating an adaptive cellular stress response pathway. The C. elegans cap‘n’collar (CNC) transcription factor, SKN-1, mediates protective responses to oxidative stress. Genetic analysis showed that skn-1 activity is required for lifespan extension by low-dose plumbagin in C. elegans. Further screening of a series of plumbagin analogs identified three additional naphthoquinones that could induce SKN-1 targets in C. elegans. Naphthazarin showed skn-1dependent lifespan extension, over an extended dose range compared to plumbagin, while the other naphthoquinones, oxoline and menadione, had differing effects on C. elegans survival and failed to activate ARE reporter expression in cultured mammalian cells. Our findings reveal the potential for low doses of naturally occurring naphthoquinones to extend lifespan by engaging a specific adaptive cellular stress response pathway.
Insulin/IGF-I-like signaling (IIS) has both cell autonomous and non-autonomous functions. In some cases, targets through which IIS regulates cell-autonomous functions, such as cell growth and metabolism, have been identified. In contrast, targets for many non-autonomous IIS functions, such as C. elegans dauer morphogenesis, remain elusive. Here, we report the use of genomic and genetic approaches to identify potential non-autonomous targets of C. elegans IIS. First, we used transcriptional microarrays to identify target genes regulated non-autonomously by IIS in the intestine or in neurons. C. elegans IIS controls expression of a number of stress response genes, which were differentially regulated by tissue-restricted IIS. In particular, expression of sod-3, a MnSOD enzyme, was not regulated by tissue-restricted IIS on the microarrays, while expression of hsp-16 genes was rescued back to wildtype by tissue restricted IIS. One IIS target regulated non-autonomously by age-1 was cyp-35B1/dod-13, encoding a cytochrome P450. Genetic analysis of the cyp-35B1 promoter showed both DAF-16 and HSF-1 are direct regulators. Based on these findings, we propose that hsf-1 may participate in the pathways mediating non-autonomous activities of age-1 in C. elegans.
Claudin proteins are frequently overexpressed in various tumors such as breast, prostate and ovarian cancer. While their functions in cancer have not been completely elucidated, roles in survival, adhesion, and invasion have been suggested. In order to clarify the roles of claudins in ovarian cancer, we have performed gene expression profiling of ovarian surface epithelial cells overexpressing claudin-4 and compared the expression patterns to the parental, non-expressing cells. Claudin-4 expression leads to the differential expression of several genes, including many that have previously been implicated in angiogenesis. In particular, angiogenic cytokines, such as IL-8, were found elevated while genes of the angiostatic interferon pathway were found down-regulated. In vitro assays show that claudin-4-expressing cells produce factors that can stimulate angiogenesis as measured by tube formation and migration in HUVEC cells. In addition, an in vivo mouse dorsal skinfold assay confirms that cells expressing claudin-4 secrete factors that can mediate angiogenesis in the dorsal skin of mice. Our data suggest a novel function for claudin-4 in cancer and provide an additional rationale for its common overexpression in human tumors.
Ovarian Cancer; expression profiling; claudin; interleukin; interferon; angiogenesis
Methamphetamine (METH) is a toxic drug of abuse, which can cause significant decreases in the levels of monoamines in various brain regions. However, animals treated with progressively increasing doses of METH over several weeks are protected against the toxic effects of the drug. In the present study, we tested the possibility that this pattern of METH injections might be associated with transcriptional changes in the rat striatum, an area of the brain which is known to be very sensitive to METH toxicity and which is protected by METH preconditioning. We found that the presence and absence of preconditioning followed by injection of large doses of METH caused differential expression in different sets of striatal genes. Quantitative PCR confirmed METH-induced changes in some genes of interest. These include small heat shock 27 kD proteins 1 and 2 (HspB1 and HspB2), brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and heme oxygenase-1 (Hmox-1). Our observations are consistent with previous studies which have reported that ischemic or pharmacological preconditioning can cause reprogramming of gene expression after lethal ischemic insults. These studies add to the growing literature on the effects of preconditioning on the brain transcriptome.
methamphetamine; preconditioning; striatum; BDNF; heat shock proteins
Memory lymphocytes are characterized by their ability to exhibit a rapid response to the recall antigen, in which differential transcription plays a significant role, yet the underlying mechanism is not understood. We report here a genome-wide analysis of histone methylation on two histone H3 lysine residues (H3K4me3 and H3K27me3) and gene expression profiles in naïve and memory CD8 T cells. We found that a general correlation exists between the levels of gene expression and the levels of H3K4me3 (positive correlation) and H3K27me3 (negative correlation) across the gene body. These correlations display four distinct modes: repressive, active, poised, and bivalent, reflecting different functions of these genes. Furthermore, a permissive chromatin state of each gene is established by a combination of different histone modifications. Our findings reveal a complex regulation by histone methylation in differential gene expression and suggest that histone methylation may be responsible for memory CD8 T cell function.
Chromatin state; differential gene expression; memory T cells; histone methylation; ChIP-Seq; microarray
With the prevalence of obesity, artificial, non-nutritive sweeteners have been widely used as dietary supplements that provide sweet taste without excessive caloric load. In order to better understand the overall actions of artificial sweeteners, especially when they are chronically used, we investigated the peripheral and central nervous system effects of protracted exposure to a widely used artificial sweetener, acesulfame K (ACK). We found that extended ACK exposure (40 weeks) in normal C57BL/6J mice demonstrated a moderate and limited influence on metabolic homeostasis, including altering fasting insulin and leptin levels, pancreatic islet size and lipid levels, without affecting insulin sensitivity and bodyweight. Interestingly, impaired cognitive memory functions (evaluated by Morris Water Maze and Novel Objective Preference tests) were found in ACK-treated C57BL/6J mice, while no differences in motor function and anxiety levels were detected. The generation of an ACK-induced neurological phenotype was associated with metabolic dysregulation (glycolysis inhibition and functional ATP depletion) and neurosynaptic abnormalities (dysregulation of TrkB-mediated BDNF and Akt/Erk-mediated cell growth/survival pathway) in hippocampal neurons. Our data suggest that chronic use of ACK could affect cognitive functions, potentially via altering neuro-metabolic functions in male C57BL/6J mice.
The aberrant expression of many genes is a common feature in the malignant transformation of cells. In mammalian cells, posttranscriptional gene regulatory processes are emerging as critical determinants controlling gene expression both in physiologic and pathologic conditions. These regulatory mechanisms are directed primarily by the interaction of mRNAs with specific RNA-binding proteins (RBP). There is an emerging body of data demonstrating that two RBPs, AUF1 and HuR, can antagonistically affect the posttranscriptional fate of target mRNAs, as well as concurrently bind to common target transcripts. Employing MCT-1 oncogene-mediated transformation of immortalized breast epithelial MCF10A cells, we characterized the largely reciprocal association of these two RBPs with target mRNAs and their influence on protein expression vis-a-vis cellular transformation. Using a ribonomics approach, we identified mRNAs from cancer-related pathways whose association with AUF1 and/or HuR were altered when comparing immortalized with transformed MCF10A cells. Significantly, we were able to show that knockdown of HuR expression using RNA interference reduced anchorage-independent growth capacity in transformed MCF10A cells and decreased protein expression of a number of validated target genes. Our data show that the global alterations in binding of HuR and AUF1 with target transcripts have a critical role in posttranscriptional regulation of genes encoding proteins involved in breast epithelial cell transformation. These findings further support the feasibility of using a ribonomics approach for the identification of cancer-related pathways.
MyD88 KO (knockout) mice are exquisitely sensitive to CNS (central nervous system) infection with Staphylococcus aureus, a common aetiological agent of brain abscess, exhibiting global defects in innate immunity and exacerbated tissue damage. However, since brain abscesses are typified by the involvement of both activated CNS-resident and infiltrating immune cells, in our previous studies it has been impossible to determine the relative contribution of MyD88-dependent signalling in the CNS compared with the peripheral immune cell compartments. In the present study we addressed this by examining the course of S. aureus infection in MyD88 bone marrow chimaera mice. Interestingly, chimaeras where MyD88 was present in the CNS, but not bone marrow-derived cells, mounted pro-inflammatory mediator expression profiles and neutrophil recruitment equivalent to or exceeding that detected in WT (wild-type) mice. These results implicate CNS MyD88 as essential in eliciting the initial wave of inflammation during the acute response to parenchymal infection. Microarray analysis of infected MyD88 KO compared with WT mice revealed a preponderance of differentially regulated genes involved in apoptotic pathways, suggesting that the extensive tissue damage characteristic of brain abscesses from MyD88 KO mice could result from dysregulated apoptosis. Collectively, the findings of the present study highlight a novel mechanism for CNS-resident cells in initiating a protective innate immune response in the infected brain and, in the absence of MyD88 in this compartment, immunity is compromised.
bone marrow chimaera mice; brain abscess; central nervous system; MyD88; Staphylococcus aureus; Toll-like receptor; CFU, colony forming unit; CNS, central nervous system; GAPDH, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase; GFP, green fluorescent protein; Ier3/IEX, immediate early response 3; IL, interleukin; IL-1R etc., IL-1 receptor; KO, knockout; Lcn2, lipocalin-2; NF-κB, nuclear factor κB; Pacsin3, protein kinase C and casein kinase substrate in neurons 3; Pfc, complement factor properdin; qRT-PCR, quantitative real-time RT (reverse transcriptase)-PCR; ROS, reactive oxygen species; SOCS3, suppressor of cytokine signalling 3; TLR, Toll-like receptor; TNF-α, tumour necrosis factor-α; WT, wild-type
In a breast tumor xenograft model, the MCT-1 oncogene increases the in vivo tumorgenicity of MCF7 cells by promoting angiogenesis and inhibiting apoptosis. Increases in the tumor microvascular density are accompanied by a strong reduction in the levels of the angiogenesis inhibitor thrombospondin-1 (TSP1), but the mechanisms underlying this process are unknown. We show that TSP1 expression is controlled, at least in part, by post-transcriptional events. Using RNA interference to knock down the expression of the RNA binding-protein HuR in MCF7 cells as well as HuR overexpression, we demonstrate that HuR plays an important role in translation of the TSP1 mRNA. Furthermore, employing the RIP-CHIP assay yielded 595 transcripts with significantly altered binding to HuR in the more tumorigenic breast cancer clones compared with the weakly tumorigenic clones. These mRNAs clustered in several pathways implicated in the transformed phenotype, such as the RAS pathway (involved in mitogenesis), the PI3K pathway (evasion of apoptosis), and pathways mediating angiogenesis and the cellular response to hypoxia. These findings demonstrate for the first time that global changes in HuR-bound mRNAs are implicated in the evolution to a more tumorigenic phenotype in an in vivo tumor model and underscore the role of global mRNA-protein interactions towards tumor progression.
post-transcriptional operon; MCT-1 oncogene; translation; TSP1; HuR; RNA-binding protein; tumor angiogenesis
Epidemiological studies have shown that the regular use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) drugs is associated with a reduced risk of various cancers. In addition, in vitro and experiments in mouse models have demonstrated that NSAIDs decrease tumor initiation and/or progression of several cancers. However, there are limited preclinical studies investigating the effects of NSAIDs in ovarian cancer. Here, we have studied the effects of two NSAIDs, diclofenac and indomethacin, in ovarian cancer cell lines and in a xenograft mouse model. Diclofenac and indomethacin treatment decreased cell growth by inducing cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. In addition, diclofenac and indomethacin reduced tumor volume in a xenograft model of ovarian cancer. To identify possible molecular pathways mediating the effects of NSAID treatment in ovarian cancer, we performed microarray analysis of ovarian cancer cells treated with indomethacin or diclofenac. Interestingly, several of the genes found downregulated following diclofenac or indomethacin treatment are transcriptional target genes of E2F1. E2F1 was downregulated at the mRNA and protein level upon treatment with diclofenac and indomethacin, and overexpression of E2F1 rescued cells from the growth inhibitory effects of diclofenac and indomethacin. In conclusion, NSAIDs diclofenac and indomethacin exert an anti-proliferative effect in ovarian cancer in vitro and in vivo and the effects of NSAIDs may be mediated, in part, by downregulation of E2F1.
Cell walls prepared by mechanically disrupting intact Rickettsia mooseri (R. typhi) were examined in an electron microscope and analyzed chemically. Electron micrographs of metal-shadowed and negatively stained rickettsial cell walls revealed no significant differences, except for smaller size, from bacterial cell walls prepared in a similar manner. The chemical composition was complex, and resembled that of gram-negative bacterial cell walls more closely than that of gram-positive bacterial cell walls. R. mooseri cell walls contained the sugars, glucose, galactose, and glucuronic acid, the amino sugars, glucosamine, and muramic acid, and at least 15 amino acids. Diaminopimelic acid, a compound hitherto found only in bacteria and blue-green algae, was demonstrated in rickettsiae for the first time. Teichoic acids were not detected. The compounds identified accounted for about 70% of the dry weight of the cell walls.
Complex trait genome-wide association studies (GWAS) provide an efficient strategy for evaluating large numbers of common variants in large numbers of individuals and for identifying trait-associated variants. Nevertheless, GWAS often leave much of the trait heritability unexplained. We hypothesized that some of this unexplained heritability might be due to common and rare variants that reside in GWAS identified loci but lack appropriate proxies in modern genotyping arrays. To assess this hypothesis, we re-examined 7 genes (APOE, APOC1, APOC2, SORT1, LDLR, APOB, and PCSK9) in 5 loci associated with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in multiple GWAS. For each gene, we first catalogued genetic variation by re-sequencing 256 Sardinian individuals with extreme LDL-C values. Next, we genotyped variants identified by us and by the 1000 Genomes Project (totaling 3,277 SNPs) in 5,524 volunteers. We found that in one locus (PCSK9) the GWAS signal could be explained by a previously described low-frequency variant and that in three loci (PCSK9, APOE, and LDLR) there were additional variants independently associated with LDL-C, including a novel and rare LDLR variant that seems specific to Sardinians. Overall, this more detailed assessment of SNP variation in these loci increased estimates of the heritability of LDL-C accounted for by these genes from 3.1% to 6.5%. All association signals and the heritability estimates were successfully confirmed in a sample of ∼10,000 Finnish and Norwegian individuals. Our results thus suggest that focusing on variants accessible via GWAS can lead to clear underestimates of the trait heritability explained by a set of loci. Further, our results suggest that, as prelude to large-scale sequencing efforts, targeted re-sequencing efforts paired with large-scale genotyping will increase estimates of complex trait heritability explained by known loci.
Despite the striking success of genome-wide association studies in identifying genetic loci associated with common complex traits and diseases, much of the heritable risk for these traits and diseases remains unexplained. A higher resolution investigation of the genome through sequencing studies is expected to clarify the sources of this missing heritability. As a preview of what we might learn in these more detailed assessments of genetic variation, we used sequencing to identify potentially interesting variants in seven genes associated with low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) in 256 Sardinian individuals with extreme LDL-C levels, followed by large scale genotyping in 5,524 individuals, to examine newly discovered and previously described variants. We found that a combination of common and rare variants in these loci contributes to variation in LDL-C levels, and also that the initial estimate of the heritability explained by these loci doubled. Importantly, our results include a Sardinian-specific rare variant, highlighting the need for sequencing studies in isolated populations. Our results provide insights about what extensive whole-genome sequencing efforts are likely to reveal for the understanding of the genetic architecture of complex traits.
Approximately 35 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer's disease (AD). Existing therapeutics, while moderately effective, are currently unable to stem the widespread rise in AD prevalence. AD is associated with an increase in amyloid beta (Aβ) oligomers and hyperphosphorylated tau, along with cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration. Several antidepressants have shown promise in improving cognition and alleviating oxidative stress in AD but have failed as long-term therapeutics. In this study, amitriptyline, an FDA-approved tricyclic antidepressant, was administered orally to aged and cognitively impaired transgenic AD mice (3×TgAD). After amitriptyline treatment, cognitive behavior testing demonstrated that there was a significant improvement in both long- and short-term memory retention. Amitriptyline treatment also caused a significant potentiation of non-toxic Aβ monomer with a concomitant decrease in cytotoxic dimer Aβ load, compared to vehicle-treated 3×TgAD controls. In addition, amitriptyline administration caused a significant increase in dentate gyrus neurogenesis as well as increases in expression of neurosynaptic marker proteins. Amitriptyline treatment resulted in increases in hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor protein as well as increased tyrosine phosphorylation of its cognate receptor (TrkB). These results indicate that amitriptyline has significant beneficial actions in aged and damaged AD brains and that it shows promise as a tolerable novel therapeutic for the treatment of AD.
The central nervous system normally functions at O2 levels which would be regarded as hypoxic by most other tissues. However, most in vitro studies of neurons and astrocytes are conducted under hyperoxic conditions without consideration of O2-dependent cellular adaptation. We analyzed the reactivity of astrocytes to 1, 4 and 9% O2 tensions compared to the cell culture standard of 20% O2, to investigate their ability to sense and translate this O2 information to transcriptional activity. Variance of ambient O2 tension for rat astrocytes resulted in profound changes in ribosomal activity, cytoskeletal and energy-regulatory mechanisms and cytokine-related signaling. Clustering of transcriptional regulation patterns revealed four distinct response pattern groups that directionally pivoted around the 4% O2 tension, or demonstrated coherent ascending/decreasing gene expression patterns in response to diverse oxygen tensions. Immune response and cell cycle/cancer-related signaling pathway transcriptomic subsets were significantly activated with increasing hypoxia, whilst hemostatic and cardiovascular signaling mechanisms were attenuated with increasing hypoxia. Our data indicate that variant O2 tensions induce specific and physiologically-focused transcript regulation patterns that may underpin important physiological mechanisms that connect higher neurological activity to astrocytic function and ambient oxygen environments. These strongly defined patterns demonstrate a strong bias for physiological transcript programs to pivot around the 4% O2 tension, while uni-modal programs that do not, appear more related to pathological actions. The functional interaction of these transcriptional ‘programs’ may serve to regulate the dynamic vascular responsivity of the central nervous system during periods of stress or heightened activity.
Unilateral injections of 6-hydroxydopamine into the medial forebrain bundle are used extensively as a model of Parkinson's disease. The present experiments sought to identify genes that were affected in the dopamine (DA)–denervated striatum after 6-hydroxydopamine-induced destruction of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic pathway in the rat. We also examined whether a single injection of methamphetamine (METH) (2.5 mg/kg) known to cause changes in gene expression in the normally DA-innervated striatum could still influence striatal gene expression in the absence of DA. Unilateral injections of 6-hydroxydopamine into the medial forebrain bundle resulted in METH-induced rotational behaviors ipsilateral to the lesioned side and total striatal DA depletion on the lesioned side. This injection also caused decrease in striatal serotonin (5-HT) and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) levels. DA depletion was associated with increases in 5-HIAA/5-HT ratios that were potentiated by the METH injection. Microarray analyses revealed changes (± 1.7-fold, p<0.025) in the expression of 67 genes on the lesioned side in comparison to the intact side of the saline-treated hemiparkinsonian animals. These include follistatin, neuromedin U, and tachykinin 2 which were up-regulated. METH administration caused increases in the expression of c-fos, Egr1, and Nor-1 on the intact side. On the DA-depleted side, METH administration also increased the expression of 61 genes including Pdgf-d and Cox-2. There were METH-induced changes in 16 genes that were common in the DA-innervated and DA-depleted sides. These include c-fos and Nor-1 which show greater changes on the normal DA side. Thus, the present study documents, for the first time, that METH mediated DA-independent changes in the levels of transcripts of several genes in the DA-denervated striatum. Our results also implicate 5-HT as a potential player in these METH-induced alterations in gene expression because the METH injection also caused significant increases in 5-HIAA/5-HT ratios on the DA-depleted side.
We present the AGEMAP (Atlas of Gene Expression in Mouse Aging Project) gene expression database, which is a resource that catalogs changes in gene expression as a function of age in mice. The AGEMAP database includes expression changes for 8,932 genes in 16 tissues as a function of age. We found great heterogeneity in the amount of transcriptional changes with age in different tissues. Some tissues displayed large transcriptional differences in old mice, suggesting that these tissues may contribute strongly to organismal decline. Other tissues showed few or no changes in expression with age, indicating strong levels of homeostasis throughout life. Based on the pattern of age-related transcriptional changes, we found that tissues could be classified into one of three aging processes: (1) a pattern common to neural tissues, (2) a pattern for vascular tissues, and (3) a pattern for steroid-responsive tissues. We observed that different tissues age in a coordinated fashion in individual mice, such that certain mice exhibit rapid aging, whereas others exhibit slow aging for multiple tissues. Finally, we compared the transcriptional profiles for aging in mice to those from humans, flies, and worms. We found that genes involved in the electron transport chain show common age regulation in all four species, indicating that these genes may be exceptionally good markers of aging. However, we saw no overall correlation of age regulation between mice and humans, suggesting that aging processes in mice and humans may be fundamentally different.
This work studies the aging process in mice using DNA microarrays to identify genes that change expression during aging. The entire set of age-regulated genes constitutes a transcriptional profile that can be used to measure ages of different individuals. Furthermore, the aging expression profile highlights genetic and metabolic pathways that change with age, providing key insights about possible molecular changes that may contribute to cell senescence and physiological decline. This aging study is massive in scope, involving gene expression measurements from 16 different tissues at four different ages. Expression data for genes of interest can be queried over the web by researchers interested in aging. Different tissues were found to have strikingly different levels of age-related change, and could be divided into three groups based on their patterns of aging: a neural group, a vascular group, and a steroid-responsive group. The electron transport chain pathway stands out because it is the only genetic pathway that shows a similar pattern of age-related change in mice, humans, worms, and flies. However, there is little overall similarity between changes in gene expression during aging of humans and mice, consistent with evolutionary theories suggesting that aging lies outside the force of natural selection.