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1.  Defective autophagy in spastizin mutated patients with hereditary spastic paraparesis type 15 
Brain  2013;136(10):3119-3139.
Hereditary spastic paraparesis type 15 is a recessive complicated form of the disease clinically characterized by slowly progressive spastic paraparesis and mental deterioration with onset between the first and second decade of life. Thinning of corpus callosum is the neuroradiological distinctive sign frequently associated with white matter abnormalities. The causative gene, ZFYVE26, encodes a large protein of 2539 amino acid residues, termed spastizin, containing three recognizable domains: a zinc finger, a leucine zipper and a FYVE domain. Spastizin protein has a diffuse cytoplasmic distribution and co-localizes partially with early endosomes, the endoplasmic reticulum, microtubules and vesicles involved in protein trafficking. In addition, spastizin localizes to the mid-body during the final step of mitosis and contributes to successful cytokinesis. Spastizin interacts with Beclin 1, a protein required for cytokinesis and autophagy, which is the major lysosome-mediated degradation process in the cell. In view of the Beclin 1–spastizin interaction, we investigated the possible role of spastizin in autophagy. We carried out this analysis by using lymphoblast and fibroblast cells derived from four different spastizin mutated patients (p.I508N, p.L243P, p.R1209fsX, p.S1312X) and from control subjects. Of note, the truncating p.R1209fsX and p.S1312X mutations lead to loss of spastizin protein. The results obtained indicate that spastizin interacts with the autophagy related Beclin 1–UVRAG–Rubicon multiprotein complex and is required for autophagosome maturation. In cells lacking spastizin or with mutated forms of the protein, spastizin interaction with Beclin 1 is lost although the formation of the Beclin 1–UVRAG–Rubicon complex can still be observed. However, in these cells we demonstrate an impairment of autophagosome maturation and an accumulation of immature autophagosomes. Autophagy defects with autophagosome accumulation can be observed also in neuronal cells upon spastizin silencing. These results indicate that autophagy is a central process in the pathogenesis of complicated forms of hereditary spastic paraparesis with thin corpus callosum.
PMCID: PMC3784282  PMID: 24030950
spastizin; autophagy; Beclin 1; autophagosome maturation; SPG15
2.  Quantitative muscle strength assessment in duchenne muscular dystrophy: longitudinal study and correlation with functional measures 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:91.
The aim of this study was to perform a longitudinal assessment using Quantitative Muscle Testing (QMT) in a cohort of ambulant boys affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and to correlate the results of QMT with functional measures. This study is to date the most thorough long-term evaluation of QMT in a cohort of DMD patients correlated with other measures, such as the North Star Ambulatory Assessment (NSAA) or thee 6-min walk test (6MWT).
This is a single centre, prospective, non-randomised, study assessing QMT using the Kin Com® 125 machine in a study cohort of 28 ambulant DMD boys, aged 5 to 12 years. This cohort was assessed longitudinally over a 12 months period of time with 3 monthly assessments for QMT and with assessment of functional abilities, using the NSAA and the 6MWT at baseline and at 12 months only. QMT was also used in a control group of 13 healthy age-matched boys examined at baseline and at 12 months.
There was an increase in QMT over 12 months in boys below the age of 7.5 years while in boys above the age of 7.5 years, QMT showed a significant decrease. All the average one-year changes were significantly different than those experienced by healthy controls. We also found a good correlation between quantitative tests and the other measures that was more obvious in the stronger children.
Our longitudinal data using QMT in a cohort of DMD patients suggest that this could be used as an additional tool to monitor changes, providing additional information on segmental strength.
PMCID: PMC3482602  PMID: 22974002
3.  Urokinase Plasminogen Receptor and the Fibrinolytic Complex Play a Role in Nerve Repair after Nerve Crush in Mice, and in Human Neuropathies 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e32059.
Remodeling of extracellular matrix (ECM) is a critical step in peripheral nerve regeneration. In fact, in human neuropathies, endoneurial ECM enriched in fibrin and vitronectin associates with poor regeneration and worse clinical prognosis. Accordingly in animal models, modification of the fibrinolytic complex activity has profound effects on nerve regeneration: high fibrinolytic activity and low levels of fibrin correlate with better nerve regeneration. The urokinase plasminogen receptor (uPAR) is a major component of the fibrinolytic complex, and binding to urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) promotes fibrinolysis and cell movement. uPAR is expressed in peripheral nerves, however, little is known on its potential function on nerve development and regeneration. Thus, we investigated uPAR null mice and observed that uPAR is dispensable for nerve development, whereas, loss of uPAR affects nerve regeneration. uPAR null mice showed reduced nerve repair after sciatic nerve crush. This was a consequence of reduced fibrinolytic activity and increased deposition of endoneurial fibrin and vitronectin. Exogenous fibrinolysis in uPAR null mice rescued nerve repair after sciatic nerve crush. Finally, we measured the fibrinolytic activity in sural nerve biopsies from patients with peripheral neuropathies. We showed that neuropathies with defective regeneration had reduced fibrinolytic activity. On the contrary, neuropathies with signs of active regeneration displayed higher fibrinolytic activity. Overall, our results suggest that enforced fibrinolysis may facilitate regeneration and outcome of peripheral neuropathies.
PMCID: PMC3283718  PMID: 22363796

Results 1-3 (3)