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1.  Delayed Myelination in an Intrauterine Growth Retardation Model Is Mediated by Oxidative Stress Upregulating Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4 
Intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) is associated with neurological deficits including cerebral palsy and cognitive and behavioral disabilities. The pathogenesis involves oxidative stress that leads to periventricular white matter injury with a paucity of mature oligodendrocytes and hypomyelination. The molecular mechanisms underlying this damage remain poorly understood. We employed a rat model of IUGR created by bilateral ligation of the uterine artery at embryonic day 19 that results in fetal growth retardation and oxidative stress in the developing brain. The IUGR rat pups showed significant delays in oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelination that resolved by 8 weeks. Bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4), which inhibits oligodendrocyte maturation, was elevated in IUGR brains at postnatal time points and returned to near normal by adulthood. Despite the apparent recovery, behavioral deficiencies were found in 8-week-old female animals, suggesting that the early transient myelination defects have permanent effects. In support of these in vivo data, oligodendrocyte precursor cells cultured from postnatal IUGR rats retained increased BMP4 expression and impaired differentiation that was reversed with the BMP inhibitor noggin. Oxidants in oligodendrocyte cultures increased BMP expression, which decreased differentiation; however, abrogating BMP signaling with noggin in vitro and in BMP-deficient mice prevented these effects. Together, these findings suggest that IUGR results in delayed myelination through the generation of oxidative stress that leads to BMP4 upregulation.
doi:10.1097/NEN.0b013e31825cfa81
PMCID: PMC3390978  PMID: 22710965
Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP); Intrauterine growth retardation; Myelin; Oligodendrocytes; Oxidative stress; Periventricular white matter injury
2.  Targeted loss of Arx results in a developmental epilepsy mouse model and recapitulates the human phenotype in heterozygous females 
Brain  2009;132(6):1563-1576.
Mutations in the X-linked aristaless-related homeobox gene (ARX) have been linked to structural brain anomalies as well as multiple neurocognitive deficits. The generation of Arx-deficient mice revealed several morphological anomalies, resembling those observed in patients and an interneuron migration defect but perinatal lethality precluded analyses of later phenotypes. Interestingly, many of the neurological phenotypes observed in patients with various ARX mutations can be attributed, in part, to interneuron dysfunction. To directly test this possibility, mice carrying a floxed Arx allele were generated and crossed to Dlx5/6CRE-IRES-GFP(Dlx5/6CIG) mice, conditionally deleting Arx from ganglionic eminence derived neurons including cortical interneurons. We now report that Arx−/y;Dlx5/6CIG (male) mice exhibit a variety of seizure types beginning in early-life, including seizures that behaviourally and electroencephalographically resembles infantile spasms, and show evolution through development. Thus, this represents a new genetic model of a malignant form of paediatric epilepsy, with some characteristics resembling infantile spasms, caused by mutations in a known infantile spasms gene. Unexpectedly, approximately half of the female mice carrying a single mutant Arx allele (Arx−/+;Dlx5/6CIG) also developed seizures. We also found that a subset of human female carriers have seizures and neurocognitive deficits. In summary, we have identified a previously unrecognized patient population with neurological deficits attributed to ARX mutations that are recapitulated in our mouse model. Furthermore, we show that perturbation of interneuron subpopulations is an important mechanism underling the pathogenesis of developmental epilepsy in both hemizygous males and carrier females. Given the frequency of ARX mutations in patients with infantile spasms and related disorders, our data unveil a new model for further understanding the pathogenesis of these disorders.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp107
PMCID: PMC2685924  PMID: 19439424
Epilepsy; development; conditional knockout; genetic model; interneurons
3.  Identification of Arx transcriptional targets in the developing basal forebrain 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(23):3740-3760.
Mutations in the aristaless-related homeobox (ARX) gene are associated with multiple neurologic disorders in humans. Studies in mice indicate Arx plays a role in neuronal progenitor proliferation and development of the cerebral cortex, thalamus, hippocampus, striatum, and olfactory bulbs. Specific defects associated with Arx loss of function include abnormal interneuron migration and subtype differentiation. How disruptions in ARX result in human disease and how loss of Arx in mice results in these phenotypes remains poorly understood. To gain insight into the biological functions of Arx, we performed a genome-wide expression screen to identify transcriptional changes within the subpallium in the absence of Arx. We have identified 84 genes whose expression was dysregulated in the absence of Arx. This population was enriched in genes involved in cell migration, axonal guidance, neurogenesis, and regulation of transcription and includes genes implicated in autism, epilepsy, and mental retardation; all features recognized in patients with ARX mutations. Additionally, we found Arx directly repressed three of the identified transcription factors: Lmo1, Ebf3 and Shox2. To further understand how the identified genes are involved in neural development, we used gene set enrichment algorithms to compare the Arx gene regulatory network (GRN) to the Dlx1/2 GRN and interneuron transcriptome. These analyses identified a subset of genes in the Arx GRN that are shared with that of the Dlx1/2 GRN and that are enriched in the interneuron transcriptome. These data indicate Arx plays multiple roles in forebrain development, both dependent and independent of Dlx1/2, and thus provides further insights into the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the pathology of mental retardation and epilepsy phenotypes resulting from ARX mutations.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddn271
PMCID: PMC2581427  PMID: 18799476

Results 1-3 (3)