Our understanding of the roles played by zinc in the physiological and pathological functioning of the brain is rapidly expanding. The increased availability of genetically modified animal models, selective zinc-sensitive fluorescent probes, and novel chelators is producing a remarkable body of exciting new data that clearly establishes this metal ion as a key modulator of intracellular and intercellular neuronal signaling. In this Mini-Symposium, we will review and discuss the most recent findings that link zinc to synaptic function as well as the injurious effects of zinc dyshomeostasis within the context of neuronal death associated with major human neurological disorders, including stroke, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common form of dementia in the elderly, is characterized by elevated brain iron levels and accumulation of copper and zinc in cerebral β-amyloid deposits; e.g., senile plaques. Both ionic zinc and copper are able to accelerate the aggregation of Aβ, the principle component of β-amyloid deposits. Copper (and iron) can also promote the neurotoxic redox activity of Aβ and induce oxidative cross-linking of the peptide into stable oligomers. Recent reports have documented the release of Aβ together with ionic zinc and copper in cortical glutamatergic synapses following excitation. This, in turn, leads to the formation of Aβ oligomers, which, in turn, modulate long-term potentiation (by controlling synaptic levels of the NMDA receptor). The excessive accumulation of Aβ oligomers in the synaptic cleft would then be predicted to adversely affect synaptic neurotransmisson. Based on these findings, we have proposed the “Metal Hypothesis of Alzheimer’s Disease” which stipulates that the neuropathogenic effects of Aβ in AD are promoted by, and possibly even dependent upon Aβ-metal interactions. Increasingly sophisticated pharmaceutical approaches are now being implemented to attenuate abnormal Aβ-metal interactions without causing systemic disturbance of essential metals. Small molecules targeting Aβ–metal interactions, e.g. PBT2, are currently advancing through clinical trials and show increasing promise as disease-modifying agents for AD based on the “metal hypothesis”.
copper; zinc; amyloid; free radical; oxidation; PBT2
Inhibition of GSL (glycosphingolipid) synthesis reduces Aβ (amyloid β-peptide) production in vitro. Previous studies indicate that GCS (glucosylceramide synthase) inhibitors modulate phosphorylation of ERK1/2 (extracellular-signal-regulated kinase 1/2) and that the ERK pathway may regulate some aspects of Aβ production. It is not clear whether there is a causative relationship linking GSL synthesis inhibition, ERK phosphorylation and Aβ production. In the present study, we treated CHO cells (Chinese-hamster ovary cells) and SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, that both constitutively express human wild-type APP (amyloid precursor protein) and process this to produce Aβ, with GSL-modulating agents to explore this relationship. We found that three related ceramide analogue GSL inhibitors, based on the PDMP (D-threo-1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol) structure, reduced cellular Aβ production and in all cases this was correlated with inhibition of pERK (phosphorylated ERK) formation. Importantly, the L-threo enantiomers of these compounds (that are inferior GSL synthesis inhibitors compared with the D-threo-enantiomers) also reduced ERK phosphorylation to a similar extent without altering Aβ production. Inhibition of ERK activation using either PD98059 [2-(2-amino-3-methoxyphenyl)-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one] or U0126 (1,4-diamino-2,3-dicyano-1,4-bis[2-aminophenylthio] butadiene) had no impact on Aβ production, and knockdown of endogenous GCS using small interfering RNA reduced cellular GSL levels without suppressing Aβ production or pERK formation. Our data suggest that the alteration in pERK levels following treatment with these ceramide analogues is not the principal mechanism involved in the inhibition of Aβ generation and that the ERK signalling pathway does not play a crucial role in processing APP through the amyloidogenic pathway.
Alzheimer's disease; amyloid β-peptide; amyloid precursor protein; extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK); glycosphingolipid; 2AA, 2-anthranilic acid; Aβ, amyloid β-peptide; Aβ40, Aβ-(1–40); Aβ42, Aβ-(1–42); AD, Alzheimer's disease; APP, amyloid precursor protein; BACE-1, β-site APP-cleaving enzyme; CHO cell, Chinese-hamster ovary cell; DAPT, N-[N-(3,5-difluorophenacetyl)-L-alanyl]-(S)-phenylglycine t-butyl ester; ERK, extracellular-signal-regulated kinase; EtDO-P4, D-threo-ethylenedioxy-1-phenyl-2-palmitoylamino-3-pyrrolidino-1-propanol; FBS, fetal bovine serum; GAPDH, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase; GCS, glucosylceramide synthase; GlcCer, glucosylceramide; GSL, glycosphingolipid; LacCer, lactosylceramide; MAPK, mitogen-activated protein kinase; MTT, 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-2H-tetrazolium bromide; PDMP, D-threo-1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol; pERK, phosphorylated ERK; PPMP, D-threo-1-phenyl-2-hexadecanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol; PS, presenilin; sAPPα, soluble APPα fragment; siRNA, small interfering RNA
Recent data from in vitro, animal, and human studies have shed new light on the positive roles of copper in many aspects of AD. Copper promotes the non-amyloidogenic processing of APP and thereby lowers the Aβ production in cell culture systems, and it increases lifetime and decreases soluble amyloid production in APP transgenic mice. In a clinical trial with Alzheimer patients, the decline of Aβ levels in CSF, which is a diagnostic marker, is diminished in the verum group (8 mg copper/day), indicating a beneficial effect of the copper treatment. These observations are in line with the benefit of treatment with compounds aimed at normalizing metal levels in the brain, such as PBT2. The data reviewed here demonstrate that there is an apparent disturbance in metal homeostasis in AD. More research is urgently needed to understand how this disturbance can be addressed therapeutically.
The insulin-like signaling (ILS) pathway regulates metabolism and is known to modulate adult lifespan in C. elegans. Altered stress responses and resistance to a wide range of stressors are also associated with changes in ILS and contribute to enhanced longevity. The transcription factors DAF-16 and HSF-1 are key effectors of the longevity phenotype. We demonstrate that increased intrinsic thermotolerance, due to lower ILS, is not dependent on stress induced transcriptional responses but instead requires active protein translation. Translation profiling experiments reveal genes that are post-transcriptionally regulated in response to altered ILS during heat shock in a DAF-16-dependent manner. Furthermore, several novel proteins are specifically required for ILS effects on thermotolerance. We propose that lowered-ILS results in metabolic and physiological changes. These DAF-16-induced changes precondition a translational response under acute stress to modulate survival.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by progressive neurodegeneration associated with the aggregation and deposition of β-amyloid (Aβ40 and Aβ42) peptide in senile plaques. Recent studies suggest that copper may play an important role in AD pathology. Copper concentrations are elevated in amyloid plaques and copper binds with high affinity to the Aβ peptide and promotes Aβ oligomerization and neurotoxicity. Despite this connection between copper and AD, it is unknown whether the expression of proteins involved in regulating copper homeostasis is altered in this disorder. In this study we demonstrate that the copper transporting P-type ATPase, ATP7A, is highly expressed in activated microglial cells that are specifically clustered around amyloid plaques in the TgCRND8 mouse model of AD. Using a cultured microglial cell line, ATP7A expression was found to be increased by the pro-inflammatory cytokine IFN-γ, but not by TNFα or IL-1β. IFN-γ also elicited marked changes in copper homeostasis, including copper-dependent trafficking of ATP7A from the Golgi to cytoplasmic vesicles, increased copper uptake and elevated expression of the CTR1 copper importer. These findings suggest that pro-inflammatory conditions associated with AD cause marked changes in microglial copper trafficking, which may underlie the changes in copper homeostasis in AD. It is concluded that copper sequestration by microglia may provide a neuroprotective mechanism in AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; copper homeostasis; ATP7A; microglia; inflammation
The role of metals in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD) has gained considerable support in recent years, with both in vitro and in vivo data demonstrating that a mis-metabolism of metal ions, such as copper and zinc, may affect various cellular cascades that ultimately leads to the development and/or potentiation of AD. In this paper, we will provide an overview of the preclinical and clinical literature that specifically relates to attempts to affect the AD cascade by the modulation of brain copper levels. We will also detail our own novel animal data, where we treated APP/PS1 (7-8 months old) mice with either high copper (20 ppm in the drinking water), high cholesterol (2% supplement in the food) or a combination of both and then assessed β-amyloid (Aβ) burden (soluble and insoluble Aβ), APP levels and behavioural performance in the Morris water maze. These data support an interaction between copper/cholesterol and both Aβ and APP and further highlight the potential role of metal ion dyshomeostasis in AD.
Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) regulates multiple cellular processes, and its dysregulation is implicated in the pathogenesis of diverse diseases. In this paper we will focus on the dysfunction of GSK-3 in Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Specifically, GSK-3 is known to interact with tau, β-amyloid (Aβ), and α-synuclein, and as such may be crucially involved in both diseases. Aβ production, for example, is regulated by GSK-3, and its toxicity is mediated by GSK-induced tau phosphorylation and degeneration. α-synuclein is a substrate for GSK-3 and GSK-3 inhibition protects against Parkinsonian toxins. Lithium, a GSK-3 inhibitor, has also been shown to affect tau, Aβ, and α-synuclein in cell culture, and transgenic animal models. Thus, understanding the role of GSK-3 in neurodegenerative diseases will enhance our understanding of the basic mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of these disorders and also facilitate the identification of new therapeutic avenues.
We have previously demonstrated that brief treatment of APP transgenic mice with metal ionophores (PBT2, Prana Biotechnology) rapidly and markedly improves learning and memory. To understand the potential mechanisms of action underlying this phenomenon we examined hippocampal dendritic spine density, and the levels of key proteins involved in learning and memory, in young (4 months) and old (14 months) female Tg2576 mice following brief (11 days) oral treatment with PBT2 (30 mg/kg/d). Transgenic mice exhibited deficits in spine density compared to littermate controls that were significantly rescued by PBT2 treatment in both the young (+17%, p<0.001) and old (+32%, p<0.001) animals. There was no effect of PBT2 on spine density in the control animals. In the transgenic animals, PBT2 treatment also resulted in significant increases in brain levels of CamKII (+57%, p = 0.005), spinophilin (+37%, p = 0.04), NMDAR1A (+126%, p = 0.02), NMDAR2A (+70%, p = 0.05), pro-BDNF (+19%, p = 0.02) and BDNF (+19%, p = 0.04). While PBT2-treatment did not significantly alter neurite-length in vivo, it did increase neurite outgrowth (+200%, p = 0.006) in cultured cells, and this was abolished by co-incubation with the transition metal chelator, diamsar. These data suggest that PBT2 may affect multiple aspects of snaptic health/efficacy. In Alzheimer's disease therefore, PBT2 may restore the uptake of physiological metal ions trapped within extracellular β-amyloid aggregates that then induce biochemical and anatomical changes to improve cognitive function.
Copper is essential for aerobic life, but many aspects of its cellular uptake and distribution remain to be fully elucidated. A genome-wide screen for copper homeostasis genes in Drosophila melanogaster identified the SNARE gene Syntaxin 5 (Syx5) as playing an important role in copper regulation; flies heterozygous for a null mutation in Syx5 display increased tolerance to high dietary copper. The phenotype is shown here to be due to a decrease in copper accumulation, a mechanism also observed in both Drosophila and human cell lines. Studies in adult Drosophila tissue suggest that very low levels of Syx5 result in neuronal defects and lethality, and increased levels also generate neuronal defects. In contrast, mild suppression generates a phenotype typical of copper-deficiency in viable, fertile flies and is exacerbated by co-suppression of the copper uptake gene Ctr1A. Reduced copper uptake appears to be due to reduced levels at the plasma membrane of the copper uptake transporter, Ctr1. Thus Syx5 plays an essential role in copper homeostasis and is a candidate gene for copper-related disease in humans.
Excessive release of chelatable zinc from excitatory synaptic vesicles is involved in the pathogenesis of selective neuronal cell death following transient forebrain ischemia. The present study was designed to examine the neuroprotective effect of a membrane-permeable zinc chelator, clioquinol (CQ), in the CA1 region of the gerbil hippocampus after transient global ischemia.
The common carotid arteries were occluded bilaterally, and CQ (10 mg/kg, i.p.) was injected into gerbils once a day. The zinc chelating effect of CQ was examined with TSQ fluorescence and autometallography. Neuronal death, the expression levels of caspases and apoptosis inducing factor (AIF) were evaluated using TUNEL, in situ hybridization and Western blotting, respectively. We were able to show for the first time that CQ treatment attenuates the ischemia-induced zinc accumulation in the CA1 pyramidal neurons, accompanied by less neuronal loss in the CA1 field of the hippocampus after ischemia. Furthermore, the expression levels of caspase-3, -9, and AIF were significantly decreased in the hippocampus of CQ-treated gerbils.
The present study indicates that the neuroprotective effect of CQ is related to downregulation of zinc-triggered caspase activation in the hippocampal CA1 region of gerbils with global ischemia.
Abnormal interaction of β-amyloid 42 (Aβ42) with copper, zinc and iron induce peptide aggregation and oxidation in Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, in health, Aβ degradation is mediated by extracellular metalloproteinases, neprilysin, insulin degrading enzyme (IDE) and matrix metalloproteinases. We investigated the relationship between levels of Aβ and biological metals in CSF. We assayed CSF copper, zinc, other metals and Aβ42 in ventricular autopsy samples of Japanese American men (N= 131) from the population-based Honolulu–Asia Aging Study. There was a significant inverse correlation of CSF Aβ42 with copper, zinc, iron, manganese and chromium. The association was particularly strong in the subgroup with high levels of both zinc and copper. Selenium and aluminum levels were not associated to CSF Aβ42. In vitro, the degradation of synthetic Aβ substrate added to CSF was markedly accelerated by low levels (2 μM) of exogenous zinc and copper. While excessive interaction with copper and zinc may induce neocortical Aβ precipitation in AD, soluble Aβ degradation is normally promoted by physiological copper and zinc concentrations.
amyloid; Alzheimer's disease; metalloproteinase; cerebrospinal fluid; zinc; copper; iron; manganese; chromium
Mutations in the DISC1 gene are strongly associated with major psychiatric syndromes such as schizophrenia. DISC1 encodes a cytoplasmic protein with many potential interaction partners, but its cellular functions remain poorly understood. We identified a role of DISC1 in the cell biology of primary cilia that display disease-relevant dopamine receptors.
A GFP-tagged DISC1 construct expressed in NIH3T3 cells and rat striatal neurons localized near the base of primary cilia. RNAi-mediated knockdown of endogenous DISC1 resulted in a marked reduction in the number of cells expressing a primary cilium. FLAG-tagged versions of the cloned human D1, D2 and D5 dopamine receptors concentrated highly on the ciliary surface, and this reflects a specific targeting mechanism specific because D3 and D4 receptors localized to the plasma membrane but were not concentrated on cilia.
These results identify a role of DISC1 in regulating the formation and/or maintenance of primary cilia, and establish subtype-specific targeting of dopamine receptors to the ciliary surface. Our findings provide new insight to receptor cell biology and suggest a relationship between DISC1 and neural dopamine signaling.
Heme (Fe2+ protoporphyrin IX) is an essential molecule that has been implicated the potent antimalarial action of artemisinin and its derivatives, although the source and nature of the heme remain controversial. Artemisinins also exhibit selective cytotoxicity against cancer cells in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrate that intracellular heme is the physiologically relevant mediator of the cytotoxic effects of artemisinins. Increasing intracellular heme synthesis through the addition of aminolevulinic acid, protoporphyrin IX, or transferrin-bound iron increased the cytotoxicity of dihydroartemisinin, while decreasing heme synthesis through the addition of succinyl acetone decreased its cytotoxic activity. A simple and robust high throughput assay was developed to screen chemical compounds that were capable of interacting with heme. A natural products library was screened which identified the compound coralyne, in addition to artemisinin, as a heme interacting compound with heme synthesis dependent cytotoxic activity. These results indicate that cellular heme may serve a general target for the development of both anti-parasitic and anti-cancer therapeutics.
Processing by γ-secretase of many type-I membrane protein substrates triggers signaling cascades by releasing intracellular domains (ICDs) that, following nuclear translocation, modulate the transcription of different genes regulating a diverse array of cellular and biological processes. Because the list of γ-secretase substrates is growing quickly and this enzyme is a cancer and Alzheimer's disease therapeutic target, the mapping of γ-secretase activity susceptible gene transcription is important for sharpening our view of specific affected genes, molecular functions and biological pathways.
To identify genes and molecular functions transcriptionally affected by γ-secretase activity, the cellular transcriptomes of Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells with enhanced and inhibited γ-secretase activity were analyzed and compared by cDNA microarray. The functional clustering by FatiGO of the 1,981 identified genes revealed over- and under-represented groups with multiple activities and functions. Single genes with the most pronounced transcriptional susceptibility to γ-secretase activity were evaluated by real-time PCR. Among the 21 validated genes, the strikingly decreased transcription of PTPRG and AMN1 and increased transcription of UPP1 potentially support data on cell cycle disturbances relevant to cancer, stem cell and neurodegenerative diseases' research. The mapping of interactions of proteins encoded by the validated genes exclusively relied on evidence-based data and revealed broad effects on Wnt pathway members, including WNT3A and DVL3. Intriguingly, the transcription of TERA, a gene of unknown function, is affected by γ-secretase activity and was significantly altered in the analyzed human Alzheimer's disease brain cortices.
Investigating the effects of γ-secretase activity on gene transcription has revealed several affected clusters of molecular functions and, more specifically, 21 genes that hold significant potential for a better understanding of the biology of γ-secretase and its roles in cancer and Alzheimer's disease pathology.
Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) prolyl 4-hydroxylases are a family of iron- and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases that negatively regulate the stability of several proteins that have established roles in adaptation to hypoxic or oxidative stress. These proteins include the transcriptional activators HIF-1α and HIF-2α. The ability of the inhibitors of HIF prolyl 4-hydroxylases to stabilize proteins involved in adaptation in neurons and to prevent neuronal injury remains unclear. We reported that structurally diverse low molecular weight or peptide inhibitors of the HIF prolyl 4-hydroxylases stabilize HIF-1α and up-regulate HIF-dependent target genes (e.g. enolase, p21waf1/cip1, vascular endothelial growth factor, or erythropoietin) in embryonic cortical neurons in vitro or in adult rat brains in vivo. We also showed that structurally diverse HIF prolyl 4-hydroxylase inhibitors prevent oxidative death in vitro and ischemic injury in vivo. Taken together these findings identified low molecular weight and peptide HIF prolyl 4-hydroxylase inhibitors as novel neurological therapeutics for stroke as well as other diseases associated with oxidative stress.
Significant portion of αA-crystallin in human lenses exists as C-terminal residues cleaved at residues 172, 168, and 162. Chaperone activity, determined with alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and βL-crystallin as target proteins, was increased in αA1–172 and decreased in αA1–168 and αA1–162. The purpose of this study was to show whether the absence of the C-terminal residues influences protein-protein interactions with target proteins.
Our hypothesis is that the chaperone-target protein binding kinetics, otherwise termed subunit exchange rates, are expected to reflect the changes in chaperone activity. To study this, we have relied on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) utilizing amine specific and cysteine specific fluorescent probes. The subunit exchange rate (k) for ADH and αA1–172 was nearly the same as that of ADH and αA-wt, αA1–168 had lower and αA1–162 had the lowest k values. When βL-crystallin was used as the target protein, αA1–172 had slightly higher k value than αA-wt and αA1–168 and αA1–162 had lower k values. As expected from earlier studies, the chaperone activity of αA1–172 was slightly better than that of αA-wt, the chaperone activity of αA1–168 was similar to that of αA-wt and αA1–162 had substantially decreased chaperone activity.
Cleavage of eleven C-terminal residues including Arg-163 and the C-terminal flexible arm significantly affects the interaction with target proteins. The predominantly hydrophilic flexible arm appears to be needed to keep the chaperone-target protein complex soluble.
The amyloid precursor protein (APP) was assumed to be an important neuron-morphoregulatory protein and plays a central role in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. In the study presented here, we analyzed the APP-transgenic mouse model APP23 using 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis technology in combination with DIGE and mass spectrometry. We investigated cortex and hippocampus of transgenic and wildtype mice at 1, 2, 7 and 15 months of age. Furthermore, cortices of 16 days old embryos were analyzed. When comparing the protein patterns of APP23 with wildtype mice, we detected a relatively large number of altered protein spots at all age stages and brain regions examined which largely preceded the occurrence of amyloid plaques. Interestingly, in hippocampus of adolescent, two-month old mice, a considerable peak in the number of protein changes was observed. Moreover, when protein patterns were compared longitudinally between age stages, we found that a large number of proteins were altered in wildtype mice. Those alterations were largely absent in hippocampus of APP23 mice at two months of age although not in other stages compared. Apparently, the large difference in the hippocampal protein patterns between two-month old APP23 and wildtype mice was caused by the absence of distinct developmental changes in the hippocampal proteome of APP23 mice. In summary, the absence of developmental proteome alterations as well as a down-regulation of proteins related to plasticity suggest the disturption of a normally occurring peak of hippocampal plasticity during adolescence in APP23 mice. Our findings are in line with the observation that AD is preceded by a clinically silent period of several years to decades. We also demonstrate that it is of utmost importance to analyze different brain regions and different age stages to obtain information about disease-causing mechanisms.
Huntington's disease (HD) is caused by a dominant polyglutamine expansion within the N-terminus of huntingtin protein and results in oxidative stress, energetic insufficiency and striatal degeneration. Copper and iron are increased in the striata of HD patients, but the role of these metals in HD pathogenesis is unknown. We found, using inductively-coupled-plasma mass spectroscopy, that elevations of copper and iron found in human HD brain are reiterated in the brains of affected HD transgenic mice. Increased brain copper correlated with decreased levels of the copper export protein, amyloid precursor protein. We hypothesized that increased amounts of copper bound to low affinity sites could contribute to pro-oxidant activities and neurodegeneration. We focused on two proteins: huntingtin, because of its centrality to HD, and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), because of its documented sensitivity to copper, necessity for normoxic brain energy metabolism and evidence for altered lactate metabolism in HD brain. The first 171 amino acids of wild-type huntingtin, and its glutamine expanded mutant form, interacted with copper, but not iron. N171 reduced Cu2+ in vitro in a 1∶1 copper∶protein stoichiometry indicating that this fragment is very redox active. Further, copper promoted and metal chelation inhibited aggregation of cell-free huntingtin. We found decreased LDH activity, but not protein, and increased lactate levels in HD transgenic mouse brain. The LDH inhibitor oxamate resulted in neurodegeneration when delivered intra-striatially to healthy mice, indicating that LDH inhibition is relevant to neurodegeneration in HD. Our findings support a role of pro-oxidant copper-protein interactions in HD progression and offer a novel target for pharmacotherapeutics.
The abnormal accumulation of amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) in the form of senile (or amyloid) plaques is one of the main characteristics of Alzheimer disease (AD). Both cholesterol and Cu2+ have been implicated in AD pathogenesis and plaque formation. Aβ binds Cu2+ with very high affinity, forming a redox-active complex that catalyzes H2O2 production from O2 and cholesterol. Here we show that Aβ:Cu2+ complexes oxidize cholesterol selectively at the C-3 hydroxyl group, catalytically producing 4-cholesten-3-one and therefore mimicking the activity of cholesterol oxidase, which is implicated in cardiovascular disease. Aβ toxicity in neuronal cultures correlated with this activity, which was inhibited by Cu2+ chelators including clioquinol. Cell death induced by staurosporine or H2O2 did not elevate 4-cholesten-3-one levels. Brain tissue from AD subjects had 98% more 4-cholesten-3-one than tissue from age-matched control subjects. We observed a similar increase in the brains of Tg2576 transgenic mice compared with nontransgenic littermates; the increase was inhibited by in vivo treatment with clioquinol, which suggests that brain Aβ accumulation elevates 4-cholesten-3-one levels in AD. Cu2+-mediated oxidation of cholesterol may be a pathogenic mechanism common to atherosclerosis and AD.
Cigarette smoking is associated with a decreased incidence of Parkinson disease (PD) through unknown mechanisms. Interestingly, a decrease in the numbers of α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (α4β2-nAChRs) in PD patients suggests an α4β2-nAChR-mediated cholinergic deficit in PD. Although oligomeric forms of α-synuclein have been recognized to be toxic and involved in the pathogenesis of PD, their direct effects on nAChR-mediated cholinergic signaling remains undefined. Here, we report for the first time that oligomeric α-synuclein selectively inhibits human α4β2-nAChR-mediated currents in a dose-dependent, non-competitive and use-independent manner. We show that pre-loading cells with guanyl-5′-yl thiophosphate fails to prevent this inhibition, suggesting that the α-synuclein-induced inhibition of α4β2-nAChR function is not mediated by nAChR internalization. By using a pharmacological approach and cultures expressing transfected human nAChRs, we have shown a clear effect of oligomeric α-synuclein on α4β2-nAChRs, but not on α4β4- or α7-nAChRs, suggesting nAChR subunit selectivity of oligomeric α-synuclein-induced inhibition. In addition, by combining the size exclusion chromatography and atomic force microscopy (AFM) analyses, we find that only large (>4 nm) oligomeric α-synuclein aggregates (but not monomeric, small oligomeric or fibrillar α-synuclein aggregates) exhibit the inhibitory effect on human α4β2-nAChRs. Collectively, we have provided direct evidence that α4β2-nAChR is a sensitive target to mediate oligomeric α-synuclein-induced modulation of cholinergic signaling, and our data imply that therapeutic strategies targeted toward α4β2-nAChRs may have potential for developing new treatments for PD.
Microtubules (MTs), key cytoskeletal elements in living cells, are critical for axonal transport, synaptic transmission, and maintenance of neuronal morphology. NAP (NAPVSIPQ) is a neuroprotective peptide derived from the essential activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP). In Alzheimer’s disease models, NAP protects against tauopathy and cognitive decline. Here, we show that NAP treatment significantly affected the alpha tubulin tyrosination cycle in the neuronal differentiation model, rat pheochromocytoma (PC12) and in rat cortical astrocytes. The effect on tubulin tyrosination/detyrosination was coupled to increased MT network area (measured in PC12 cells), which is directly related to neurite outgrowth. Tubulin beta3, a marker for neurite outgrowth/neuronal differentiation significantly increased after NAP treatment. In rat cortical neurons, NAP doubled the area of dynamic MT invasion (Tyr-tubulin) into the neuronal growth cone periphery. NAP was previously shown to protect against zinc-induced MT/neurite destruction and neuronal death, here, in PC12 cells, NAP treatment reversed zinc-decreased tau-tubulin-MT interaction and protected against death. NAP effects on the MT pool, coupled with increased tau engagement on compromised MTs imply an important role in neuronal plasticity, protecting against free tau accumulation leading to tauopathy. With tauopathy representing a major pathological hallmark in Alzheimer's disease and related disorders, the current findings provide a mechanistic basis for further development. NAP (davunetide) is in phase 2/3 clinical trial in progressive supranuclear palsy, a disease presenting MT deficiency and tau pathology.
Probing molecular brain mechanisms related to increased suicide risk is an important issue in biological psychiatry research. Gene expression studies on post mortem brains indicate extensive changes prior to a successful suicide attempt; however, proteomic studies are scarce. Thus, we performed a DIGE proteomic analysis of post mortem tissue samples from the prefrontal cortex and amygdala of suicide victims to identify protein changes and biomarker candidates of suicide. Among our matched spots we found 46 and 16 significant differences in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, respectively; by using the industry standard t test and 1.3 fold change as cut off for significance. Because of the risk of false discoveries (FDR) in these data, we also made FDR adjustment by calculating the q-values for all the t tests performed and by using 0.06 and 0.4 as alpha thresholds we reduced the number of significant spots to 27 and 9 respectively. From these we identified 59 proteins in the cortex and 11 proteins in the amygdala. These proteins are related to biological functions and structures such as metabolism, the redox system, the cytoskeleton, synaptic function, and proteolysis. Thirteen of these proteins (CBR1, DPYSL2, EFHD2, FKBP4, GFAP, GLUL, HSPA8, NEFL, NEFM, PGAM1, PRDX6, SELENBP1 and VIM,) have already been suggested to be biomarkers of psychiatric disorders at protein or genome level. We also pointed out 9 proteins that changed in both the amygdala and the cortex, and from these, GFAP, INA, NEFL, NEFM and TUBA1 are interacting cytoskeletal proteins that have a functional connection to glutamate, GABA, and serotonin receptors. Moreover, ACTB, CTSD and GFAP displayed opposite changes in the two examined brain structures that might be a suitable characteristic for brain imaging studies. The opposite changes of ACTB, CTSD and GFAP in the two brain structures were validated by western blot analysis.