Compelling evidence indicates that oxidative stress contributes to motor neuron injury in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), but antioxidant therapies have not yet achieved therapeutic benefit in the clinic. The nuclear erythroid 2-related-factor 2 (Nrf2) transcription factor is a key regulator of an important neuroprotective response by driving the expression of multiple cytoprotective genes via its interaction with the antioxidant response element (ARE). Dysregulation of the Nrf2-ARE system has been identified in ALS models and human disease. Taking the Nrf2-ARE pathway as an attractive therapeutic target for neuroprotection in ALS, we aimed to identify CNS penetrating, small molecule activators of Nrf2-mediated transcription in a library of 2000 drugs and natural products. Compounds were screened extensively for Nrf2 activation, and antioxidant and neuroprotective properties in vitro. S[+]-Apomorphine, a receptor-inactive enantiomer of the clinically approved dopamine-receptor agonist (R[–]-apomorphine), was identified as a nontoxic Nrf2 activating molecule. In vivo S[+]-apomorphine demonstrated CNS penetrance, Nrf2 induction, and significant attenuation of motor dysfunction in the SOD1G93A transgenic mouse model of ALS. S[+]-apomorphine also reduced pathological oxidative stress and improved survival following an oxidative insult in fibroblasts from ALS patients. This molecule emerges as a promising candidate for evaluation as a potential neuroprotective agent in ALS patients in the clinic.
ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ARE, antioxidant response element; carboxy-H2DCFDA, 6-carboxy-2′,7′-dichlorodihydrofluorescein diacetate; CNS, central nervous system; DCF, dichlorofluorescein; MEFs, mouse embryonic fibroblasts; Nrf2, nuclear erythroid 2-related-factor 2; PBPK, physiologically based pharmacokinetic; Q-RTPCR, quantitative RT-PCR; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; motor neurone disease; Nrf2; preclinical pharmacology; neurodegeneration
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder with no effective treatment to date. Despite its multi-factorial aetiology, oxidative stress is hypothesized to be one of the key pathogenic mechanisms. It is thus proposed that manipulation of the expression of antioxidant genes that are downregulated in the presence of mutant SOD1 may serve as a therapeutic strategy for motor neuronal protection. Lentiviral vectors expressing either PRDX3 or NRF2 genes were tested in the motor neuronal-like NSC34 cell line, and in the ALS tissue culture model, NSC34 cells expressing the human SOD1G93A mutation. The NSC34 SOD1G93A cells overexpressing either PRDX3 or NRF2 showed a significant decrease in endogenous oxidation stress levels by 40 and 50% respectively compared with controls, whereas cell survival was increased by 30% in both cases. The neuroprotective potential of those two genes was further investigated in vivo in the SOD1G93A ALS mouse model, by administering intramuscular injections of adenoassociated virus serotype 6 (AAV6) expressing either of the target genes at a presymptomatic stage. Despite the absence of a significant effect in survival, disease onset or progression, which can be explained by the inefficient viral delivery, the promising in vitro data suggest that a more widespread CNS delivery is needed.
Sizing of GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat expansions within the C9ORF72 locus, which account for approximately 10% of all amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases, is urgently required to answer fundamental questions about mechanisms of pathogenesis in this important genetic variant. Currently employed PCR protocols are limited to discrimination between the presence and absence of a modified allele with more than 30 copies of the repeat, while Southern hybridisation-based methods are confounded by the somatic heterogeneity commonly present in blood samples, which might cause false-negative or ambiguous results.
We describe an optimised Southern hybridisation-based protocol that allows confident detection of the presence of a C9ORF72 repeat expansion alongside independent assessment of its heterogeneity and the number of repeat units. The protocol can be used with either a radiolabeled or non-radiolabeled probe. Using this method we have successfully sized the C9ORF72 repeat expansion in lymphoblastoid cells, peripheral blood, and post-mortem central nervous system (CNS) tissue from ALS patients. It was also possible to confidently demonstrate the presence of repeat expansion, although of different magnitude, in both C9ORF72 alleles of the genome of one patient.
The suggested protocol has sufficient advantages to warrant adoption as a standard for Southern blot hybridisation analysis of GGGGCC repeat expansions in the C9ORF72 locus.
C9ORF72; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Southern hybridisation
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease in which death of motoneurons leads to progressive failure of the neuromuscular system resulting in death frequently within 2–3 years of symptom onset. Focal onset and propagation of the disease symptoms to contiguous motoneuron groups is a striking feature of the human disease progression. Recent work, using mutant superoxide dismutase 1 murine models and in vitro culture systems has indicated that astrocytes are likely to contribute to the propagation of motoneuron injury and disease progression. However, the basis of this astrocyte toxicity and/or failure of motoneuron support has remained uncertain. Using a combination of in vivo and in vitro model systems of superoxide dismutase 1-related amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, linked back to human biosamples, we set out to elucidate how astrocyte properties change in the presence of mutant superoxide dismutase 1 to contribute to motoneuron injury. Gene expression profiling of spinal cord astrocytes from presymptomatic transgenic mice expressing mutant superoxide dismutase 1 revealed two striking changes. First, there was evidence of metabolic dysregulation and, in particular, impairment of the astrocyte lactate efflux transporter, with resultant decrease of spinal cord lactate levels. Second, there was evidence of increased nerve growth factor production and dysregulation of the ratio of pro-nerve growth factor to mature nerve growth factor, favouring p75 receptor expression and activation by neighbouring motoneurons. Functional in vitro studies showed that astrocytes expressing mutant superoxide dismutase 1 are toxic to normal motoneurons. We provide evidence that reduced metabolic support from lactate release and activation of pro-nerve growth factor-p75 receptor signalling are key components of this toxicity. Preservation of motoneuron viability could be achieved by increasing lactate provision to motoneurons, depletion of increased pro-nerve growth factor levels or p75 receptor blockade. These findings are likely to be relevant to human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, where we have demonstrated increased levels of pro-nerve growth factor in cerebrospinal fluid and increased expression of the p75 receptor by spinal motoneurons. Taken together, these data confirm that altered properties of astrocytes are likely to play a crucial role in the propagation of motoneuron injury in superoxide dismutase 1-related amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and indicate that manipulation of the energy supply to motoneurons as well as inhibition of p75 receptor signalling may represent valuable neuroprotective strategies.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; astrocytes; microarray; lactate; nerve growth factor
C5L2 is a new cellular receptor found to interact with the human anaphylatoxins complement factor C5a and its C-terminal cleavage product C5a des Arg. The classical human C5a receptor (C5aR) preferentially binds C5a, with a 10-100-fold lower affinity for C5a des Arg. In contrast, C5L2 binds both ligands with nearly equal affinity. C5aR presents acidic and tyrosine residues in its N-terminus that interact with the core of C5a while a hydrophobic pocket formed by the transmembrane helices interacts with residues in the C-terminus of C5a. Here, we have investigated the molecular basis for the increased affinity of C5L2 for C5a des Arg. Rat and mouse C5L2 preferentially bound C5a des Arg, whereas rodent C5aR showed much higher affinity for intact C5a. Effective peptidic and non-peptidic ligands for the transmembrane hydrophobic pocket of C5aR were poor inhibitors of ligand binding to C5L2. An antibody raised against the N-terminus of human C5L2 did not affect the binding of C5a to C5L2 but did inhibit C5a des Arg binding. A chimeric C5L2, containing the N-terminus of C5aR, had little effect on the affinity for C5a des Arg. Mutation of acidic and tyrosine residues in the N-terminus of human C5L2 revealed that three residues were critical for C5a des Arg binding but had little involvement in C5a binding. C5L2 thus appears to bind C5a and C5a des Arg by different mechanisms and, unlike C5aR, C5L2 uses critical residues in its N-terminal domain for binding only to C5a des Arg.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a common late-onset neurodegenerative disease, is associated with fronto-temporal dementia (FTD) in 3–10% of patients. A mutation in CHMP2B was recently identified in a Danish pedigree with autosomal dominant FTD. Subsequently, two unrelated patients with familial ALS, one of whom also showed features of FTD, were shown to carry missense mutations in CHMP2B. The initial aim of this study was to determine whether mutations in CHMP2B contribute more broadly to ALS pathogenesis.
Sequencing of CHMP2B in 433 ALS cases from the North of England identified 4 cases carrying 3 missense mutations, including one novel mutation, p.Thr104Asn, none of which were present in 500 neurologically normal controls. Analysis of clinical and neuropathological data of these 4 cases showed a phenotype consistent with the lower motor neuron predominant (progressive muscular atrophy (PMA)) variant of ALS. Only one had a recognised family history of ALS and none had clinically apparent dementia. Microarray analysis of motor neurons from CHMP2B cases, compared to controls, showed a distinct gene expression signature with significant differential expression predicting disassembly of cell structure; increased calcium concentration in the ER lumen; decrease in the availability of ATP; down-regulation of the classical and p38 MAPK signalling pathways, reduction in autophagy initiation and a global repression of translation. Transfection of mutant CHMP2B into HEK-293 and COS-7 cells resulted in the formation of large cytoplasmic vacuoles, aberrant lysosomal localisation demonstrated by CD63 staining and impairment of autophagy indicated by increased levels of LC3-II protein. These changes were absent in control cells transfected with wild-type CHMP2B.
We conclude that in a population drawn from North of England pathogenic CHMP2B mutations are found in approximately 1% of cases of ALS and 10% of those with lower motor neuron predominant ALS.
We provide a body of evidence indicating the likely pathogenicity of the reported gene alterations. However, absolute confirmation of pathogenicity requires further evidence, including documentation of familial transmission in ALS pedigrees which might be most fruitfully explored in cases with a LMN predominant phenotype.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult-onset neurodegenerative disease, characterized by progressive dysfunction and death of motor neurons. Although evidence for oxidative stress in ALS pathogenesis is well described, antioxidants have generally shown poor efficacy in animal models and human clinical trials. We have developed an in vitro screening cascade to identify antioxidant molecules capable of rescuing NSC34 motor neuron cells expressing an ALS-associated mutation of superoxide dismutase 1. We have tested known antioxidants and screened a library of 2000 small molecules. The library screen identified 164 antioxidant molecules, which were refined to the 9 most promising molecules in subsequent experiments. Analysis of the in silico properties of hit compounds and a review of published literature on their in vivo effectiveness have enabled us to systematically identify molecules with antioxidant activity combined with chemical properties necessary to penetrate the central nervous system. The top-performing molecules identified include caffeic acid phenethyl ester, esculetin, and resveratrol. These compounds were tested for their ability to rescue primary motor neuron cultures after trophic factor withdrawal, and the mechanisms of action of their antioxidant effects were investigated. Subsequent in vivo studies can be targeted using molecules with the greatest probability of success.
5-LOX, 5-lipoxygenase; AAPH, 2,2′-azobis(2-methylpropionamidine) dihydrochloride; ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ARE, antioxidant response element; BBB, blood–brain barrier; CAPE, caffeic acid phenethyl ester; CNS, central nervous system; DCF, dichlorofluorescein; DMSO, dimethyl sulfoxide; Esc, esculetin; EthD1, ethidium homodimer-1; EGFP, enhanced green fluorescent protein; LTB4, leukotriene B4; MN, motor neuron; MTT, methylthiazolyldiphenyl tetrazolium bromide; NDGA, nordihydroguaiaretic acid; Nrf2, nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2; OTCA, 2-oxo-l-thiazolidine-4-carboxylic acid; PBS, phosphate-buffered saline; PI, prediction interval; PSA, polar surface area; Res, resveratrol; R-PE, R-phycoerythrin; SOD1, superoxide dismutase 1; TK, thymidine kinase promoter; TRAP, total radical-trapping antioxidant parameter.; Antioxidant; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Mouse; NSC34; Superoxide dismutase; Free radicals
The chemotaxis inhibitory protein of Staphylococcus aureus (CHIPS) is reported to bind to the receptors for C5a and formylated peptides and has been proposed as a promising lead for the development of new anti-inflammatory compounds. Here we have examined the receptor specificity and mode of action of recombinant CHIPS28-149 and also the immune response to CHIPS28-149 in patients with S. aureus infections and in uninfected controls. Recombinant CHIPS28-149 bound with high affinity to the human C5a receptor (C5aR), but had low affinity for the second C5a receptor, C5L2, and the formyl peptide receptor, FPR. Although ligand binding to C5aR was potently inhibited, CHIPS28-149 had much weaker effects on ligand binding to C5L2 and FPR. Similarly, CHIPS28-149 potently inhibited the ligand-induced activation of C5aR but was less potent at inhibition via FPR. NMR studies showed that CHIPS28-149 bound directly to the N-terminus of C5aR but not C5L2, and CHIPS28-149 residues involved in the interaction were identified by chemical shift analysis. All human sera examined contained high titres of IgG and IgA reactivity against CHIPS28-149, and no correlation was observed between infection status at the time of serum collection and antibody titre. Individual serum samples promoted or inhibited the binding of CHIPS28-149 to C5aR, or had no effect. IgG depletion of serum samples abrogated the effects on CHIPS binding, demonstrating that these were antibody mediated. Sera from infected individuals were more likely to inhibit CHIPS28-149 binding than sera from healthy controls. However, high antibody titres correlated well with both inhibition and enhancement of CHIPS28-149 binding to C5aR; this suggests that the inhibitory effect relates to epitope specificity rather than greater antibody binding. We conclude that CHIPS is likely to be too immunogenic to be used as an anti-inflammatory treatment but that some antibodies against CHIPS may be useful in the treatment of S. aureus infections.
Complement; Receptor; Staphylococcus aureus; Antibody; C5a
The chemotaxis inhibitory protein of Staphylococcus aureus (CHIPS) is reported to bind to the receptors for C5a and formylated peptides and has been proposed as a promising lead for the development of new anti-inflammatory compounds. Here we have examined the receptor specificity and mode of action of recombinant CHIPS28–149 and also the immune response to CHIPS28–149 in patients with S. aureus infections and in uninfected controls. Recombinant CHIPS28–149 bound with high affinity to the human C5a receptor (C5aR), but had low affinity for the second C5a receptor, C5L2, and the formyl peptide receptor, FPR. Although ligand binding to C5aR was potently inhibited, CHIPS28–149 had much weaker effects on ligand binding to C5L2 and FPR. Similarly, CHIPS28–149 potently inhibited the ligand-induced activation of C5aR but was less potent at inhibition via FPR. NMR studies showed that CHIPS28–149 bound directly to the N-terminus of C5aR but not C5L2, and CHIPS28–149 residues involved in the interaction were identified by chemical shift analysis. All human sera examined contained high titres of IgG and IgA reactivity against CHIPS28–149, and no correlation was observed between infection status at the time of serum collection and antibody titre. Individual serum samples promoted or inhibited the binding of CHIPS28–149 to C5aR, or had no effect. IgG depletion of serum samples abrogated the effects on CHIPS binding, demonstrating that these were antibody mediated. Sera from infected individuals were more likely to inhibit CHIPS28–149 binding than sera from healthy controls. However, high antibody titres correlated well with both inhibition and enhancement of CHIPS28–149 binding to C5aR; this suggests that the inhibitory effect relates to epitope specificity rather than greater antibody binding. We conclude that CHIPS is likely to be too immunogenic to be used as an anti-inflammatory treatment but that some antibodies against CHIPS may be useful in the treatment of S. aureus infections.
Complement; Receptor; Staphylococcus aureus; Antibody; C5a
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection of human macrophages can be inhibited by antibodies which bind to the tetraspanin protein CD63, but not by antibodies that bind to other members of the tetraspanin family. This inhibitory response was limited to CCR5 (R5)-tropic virus and was only observed using macrophages, but not T cells. Here, we show that recombinant soluble forms of the large extracellular domain (EC2) of human tetraspanins CD9, CD63, CD81, and CD151 produced as fusion proteins with glutathione S-transferase (GST) can all potently and completely inhibit R5 HIV-1 infection of macrophages with 50% inhibitory concentration values of 0.11 to 1.2 nM. Infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells could also be partly inhibited, although higher concentrations of EC2 proteins were required. Inhibition was largely coreceptor independent, as macrophage infections by virions pseudotyped with CXCR4 (X4)-tropic HIV-1 or vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-G glycoproteins were also inhibited, but was time dependent, since addition prior to or during, but not after, virus inoculation resulted in potent inhibition. Incubation with tetraspanins did not decrease CD4 or HIV-1 coreceptor expression but did block virion uptake. Colocalization of fluorescently labeled tetraspanin EC2 proteins and HIV-1 virions within, and with CD4 and CXCR4 at the cell surfaces of, macrophages could be detected, and internalized tetraspanin EC2 proteins were directed to vesicular compartments that contained internalized dextran and transferrin. Collectively, the data suggest that the mechanism of inhibition of HIV-1 infection by tetraspanins is at the step of virus entry, perhaps via interference with binding and/or the formation of CD4-coreceptor complexes within microdomains that are required for membrane fusion events.
CD81 has been described as a putative receptor for hepatitis C virus (HCV); however, its role in HCV cell entry has not been characterized due to the lack of an efficient cell culture system. We have examined the role of CD81 in HCV glycoprotein-dependent entry by using a recently developed retroviral pseudotyping system. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pseudotypes bearing HCV E1E2 glycoproteins show a restricted tropism for human liver cell lines. Although all of the permissive cell lines express CD81, CD81 expression alone is not sufficient to allow viral entry. CD81 is required for HIV-HCV pseudotype infection since (i) a monoclonal antibody specific for CD81 inhibited infection of susceptible target cells and (ii) silencing of CD81 expression in Huh-7.5 hepatoma cells by small interfering RNAs inhibited HIV-HCV pseudotype infection. Furthermore, expression of CD81 in human liver cells that were previously resistant to infection, HepG2 and HH29, conferred permissivity of HCV pseudotype infection. The characterization of chimeric CD9/CD81 molecules confirmed that the large extracellular loop of CD81 is a determinant for viral entry. These data suggest a functional role for CD81 as a coreceptor for HCV glycoprotein-dependent viral cell entry.
Human CD81 has been previously identified as the putative receptor for the hepatitis C virus envelope glycoprotein E2. The large extracellular loop (LEL) of human CD81 differs in four amino acid residues from that of the African green monkey (AGM), which does not bind E2. We mutated each of the four positions in human CD81 to the corresponding AGM residues and expressed them as soluble fusion LEL proteins in bacteria or as complete membrane proteins in mammalian cells. We found human amino acid 186 to be critical for the interaction with the viral envelope glycoprotein. This residue was also important for binding of certain anti-CD81 monoclonal antibodies. Mutating residues 188 and 196 did not affect E2 or antibody binding. Interestingly, mutation of residue 163 increased both E2 and antibody binding, suggesting that this amino acid contributes to the tertiary structure of CD81 and its ligand-binding ability. These observations have implications for the design of soluble high-affinity molecules that could target the CD81-E2 interaction site(s).
A truncated soluble form of the hepatitis C virus E2 glycoprotein, E2661, binds specifically to the surface of cells expressing human CD81 (hCD81) but not other members of the tetraspanin family (CD9, CD63, and CD151). No differences were noted between the level of E2661 binding to hCD81 expressed on the surface of rat RBL or KM3 cells compared to Daudi and Molt-4 cells, suggesting that additional human-cell-specific factors are not required for the primary interaction of E2 with the cell surface. E2 did not interact with African green monkey (AGM) CD81 on the surface of COS cells, which differs from the hCD81 sequence at four residues within the second extracellular region (EC2) (amino acids [aa] 163, 186, 188, and 196), suggesting that one or more of these residues defines the site of interaction with E2. Various recombinant forms of CD81 EC2 show differences in the ability to bind E2, suggesting that CD81 conformation is important for E2 recognition. Regions of E2 involved in the CD81 interaction were analyzed, and our data suggest that the binding site is of a conformational nature involving aa 480 to 493 and 544 to 551 within the E2 glycoprotein. Finally, we demonstrate that ligation of CD81 by E2661 induced aggregation of lymphoid cells and inhibited B-cell proliferation, demonstrating that E2 interaction with CD81 can modulate cell function.