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1.  Degeneration and impaired regeneration of gray matter oligodendrocytes in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Nature neuroscience  2013;16(5):571-579.
Oligodendrocytes associate with axons to establish myelin and provide metabolic support to neurons. In the spinal cord of ALS mice, oligodendrocytes downregulate transporters that transfer glycolytic substrates to neurons and oligodendrocyte progenitors (NG2+ cells) exhibit enhanced proliferation and differentiation, although the cause of these changes in oligodendroglia is unknown. Here we report that there is extensive degeneration of gray matter oligodendrocytes in the spinal cord of ALS mice before disease onset. Although new oligodendrocytes were formed, they failed to mature, resulting in progressive demyelination. Oligodendrocyte dysfunction also is prevalent in human ALS, as gray matter demyelination and reactive changes in NG2+ cells were observed in motor cortex and spinal cord of ALS patients. Selective removal of mutant SOD1 from oligodendroglia substantially delayed disease onset and prolonged survival in ALS mice, suggesting that ALS-linked genes enhance the vulnerability of motor neurons and accelerate disease by directly impairing the function of oligodendrocytes.
doi:10.1038/nn.3357
PMCID: PMC3637847  PMID: 23542689
2.  Harmine, A Natural Beta-Carboline Alkaloid, Upregulates Astroglial Glutamate Transporter Expression 
Neuropharmacology  2010;60(7-8):1168-1175.
Glutamate is the predominant excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter in the mammalian central nervous system (CNS). Glutamate transporter EAAT2 /GLT-1 is the physiologically dominant astroglial protein that inactivates synaptic glutamate. Previous studies have shown that EAAT2 dysfunction leads to excessive extracellular glutamate and may contribute to various neurological disorders including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The recent discovery of the neuroprotective properties of ceftriaxone, a beta lactam antibiotic, suggested that increasing EAAT2 /GLT-1 gene expression might be beneficial in ALS and other neurological/psychiatric disorders by augmenting astrocytic glutamate uptake. Here we report our efforts to develop a new screening assay for identifying compounds that activate EAAT2 gene expression. We generated fetal derived-human immortalized astroglial cells that are stably expressing a firefly luciferase reporter under the control of the human EAAT2 promoter. When screening a library of 1040 FDA approved compounds and natural products, we identified harmine, a naturally occurring beta-carboline alkaloid, as one of the top hits for activating the EAAT2 promoter. We further tested harmine in our in vitro cell culture systems and confirmed its ability to increase EAAT2/GLT1 gene expression and functional glutamate uptake activity. We next tested its efficacy in both wild type animals and in an ALS animal model of disease and demonstrated that harmine effectively increased GLT-1 protein and glutamate transporter activity in vivo. Our studies provide potential novel neurotherapeutics by modulating the activity of glutamate transporters via gene activation.
doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2010.10.016
PMCID: PMC3220934  PMID: 21034752
harmine; GLT-1; EAAT2; glutamate transporter; astroglia; ALS
3.  Molecular Comparison of GLT1+ and ALDH1L1+ Astrocytes In Vivo In Astroglial Reporter Mice 
Glia  2011;59(2):200-207.
Astrocyte heterogeneity remains largely unknown in the CNS due to lack of specific astroglial markers. In this study, molecular identity of in vivo astrocytes was characterized in BAC ALDH1L1 and BAC GLT1 eGFP promoter reporter transgenic mice. ALDH1L1 promoter is selectively activated in adult cortical and spinal cord astrocytes, indicated by the overlap of eGFP expression with ALDH1L1 and GFAP, but not with NeuN, APC, Olig2, IbaI, PDGFRα immunoreactivity in BAC ALDH1L1 eGFP reporter mice. Interestingly, ALDH1L1 expression levels (protein, mRNA, and promoter activity) in spinal cord were selectively decreased during postnatal maturation. In contrast, its expression was up-regulated in reactive astrocytes in both acute neural injury and chronic neurodegenerative (G93A mutant SOD1) conditions, similar to GFAP, but opposite of GLT1. ALDH1L1+ and GLT1+ cells isolated through fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) from BAC ALDH1L1 and BAC GLT1 eGFP mice share a highly similar gene expression profile, suggesting ALDH1L1 and GLT1 are co-expressed in the same population of astrocytes. This observation was further supported by overlap of the eGFP driven by the ALDH1L1 genomic promoter and the tdTomato driven by a 8.3kb EAAT2 promoter fragment in astrocytes of BAC ALDH1L1 eGFP X EAAT2-tdTomato mice. These studies support ALDH1L1 as a general CNS astroglial marker and investigated astrocyte heterogeneity in the CNS by comparing the molecular identity of the ALDH1L1+ and GLT1+ astrocytes from astroglial reporter mice. These astroglial reporter mice provide useful in vivo tools for the molecular analysis of astrocytes in physiological and pathological conditions.
doi:10.1002/glia.21089
PMCID: PMC3199134  PMID: 21046559
astroglia; BAC; ALDH1L1; GLT1; GFAP; oligodendroglia; ALS
4.  Oligodendroglia metabolically support axons and contribute to neurodegeneration 
Nature  2012;487(7408):443-448.
Summary
Oligodendroglia support axon survival and function through mechanisms independent of myelination and their dysfunction leads to axon degeneration in several diseases. The cause of this degeneration has not been determined, but lack of energy metabolites such as glucose or lactate has been hypothesized. Lactate is transported exclusively by monocarboxylate transporters, and changes to these transporters alter lactate production and utilization. We show the most abundant lactate transporter in the CNS, monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1), is highly enriched within oligodendroglia and that disruption of this transporter produces axon damage and neuron loss in animal and cell culture models. In addition, this same transporter is reduced in patients with, and mouse models of, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), suggesting a role for oligodendroglial MCT1 in pathogenesis. The role of oligodendroglia in axon function and neuron survival has been elusive; this study defines a new fundamental mechanism by which oligodendroglia support neurons and axons.
doi:10.1038/nature11314
PMCID: PMC3408792  PMID: 22801498
5.  The blood-brain barrier: an engineering perspective 
It has been more than 100 years since Paul Ehrlich reported that various water-soluble dyes injected into the circulation did not enter the brain. Since Ehrlich's first experiments, only a small number of molecules, such as alcohol and caffeine have been found to cross the blood-brain barrier, and this selective permeability remains the major roadblock to treatment of many central nervous system diseases. At the same time, many central nervous system diseases are associated with disruption of the blood-brain barrier that can lead to changes in permeability, modulation of immune cell transport, and trafficking of pathogens into the brain. Therefore, advances in our understanding of the structure and function of the blood-brain barrier are key to developing effective treatments for a wide range of central nervous system diseases. Over the past 10 years it has become recognized that the blood-brain barrier is a complex, dynamic system that involves biomechanical and biochemical signaling between the vascular system and the brain. Here we reconstruct the structure, function, and transport properties of the blood-brain barrier from an engineering perspective. New insight into the physics of the blood-brain barrier could ultimately lead to clinical advances in the treatment of central nervous system diseases.
doi:10.3389/fneng.2013.00007
PMCID: PMC3757302  PMID: 24009582
blood-brain barrier; neurovascular unit; capillary; microvasculature; transport
6.  Human Nasal Olfactory Epithelium as a Dynamic Marker for CNS Therapy Development 
Experimental neurology  2011;232(2):203-211.
Discovery of new central nervous system (CNS) acting therapeutics has been slowed down by the lack of useful applicable biomarkers of disease or drug action often due to inaccessibility of relevant human CNS tissue and cell types. In recent years, non-neuronal cells, such as astrocytes, have been reported to play a highly significant role in neurodegenerative diseases, CNS trauma, as well as psychiatric disease and have become a target for small molecule and biologic therapies. We report the development of a method for measuring pharmacodynamic changes induced by potential CNS therapeutics using nasal olfactory neural tissue biopsy. We validated this approach using a potential astrocyte-targeted therapeutic, thiamphenicol, in a pre-clinical rodent study as well as a phase 1 human trial. In both settings, analysis of the olfactory epithelial tissue revealed biological activity of thiamphenicol at the drug target, the excitatory amino acid transporter 2 (EAAT2). Therefore, this biomarker approach may provide a reliable evaluation of CNS glial-directed therapies and hopefully improve throughput for nervous system drug discovery.
doi:10.1016/j.expneurol.2011.09.002
PMCID: PMC3220936  PMID: 21945230
Nasal biopsy; olfactory epithelial tissue; glutamate transporter; ALS; astroglia; astrocyte; surrogate marker
7.  Derivation of Glial Restricted Precursors from E13 mice 
This is a protocol for derivation of glial restricted precursor (GRP) cells from the spinal cord of E13 mouse fetuses. These cells are early precursors within the oligodendrocytic cell lineage. Recently, these cells have been studied as potential source for restorative therapies in white matter diseases. Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is the leading cause of non-genetic white matter disease in childhood and affects up to 50% of extremely premature infants. The data suggest a heightened susceptibility of the developing brain to hypoxia-ischemia, oxidative stress and excitotoxicity that selectively targets nascent white matter. Glial restricted precursors (GRP), oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPC) and immature oligodendrocytes (preOL) seem to be key players in the development of PVL and are the subject of continuing studies. Furthermore, previous studies have identified a subset of CNS tissue that has increased susceptibility to glutamate excitotoxicity as well as a developmental pattern to this susceptibility. Our laboratory is currently investigating the role of oligodendrocyte progenitors in PVL and use cells at the GRP stage of development. We utilize these derived GRP cells in several experimental paradigms to test their response to select stresses consistent with PVL. GRP cells can be manipulated in vitro into OPCs and preOL for transplantation experiments with mouse PVL models and in vitro models of PVL-like insults including hypoxia-ischemia. By using cultured cells and in vitro studies there would be reduced variability between experiments which facilitates interpretation of the data. Cultured cells also allows for enrichment of the GRP population while minimizing the impact of contaminating cells of non-GRP phenotype.
doi:10.3791/3462
PMCID: PMC3399460  PMID: 22760029
Neuroscience;  Issue 64;  Physiology;  Medicine;  periventricular leukomalacia;  oligodendrocytes;  glial restricted precursors;  spinal cord;  cell culture
8.  β-III spectrin is critical for development of Purkinje cell dendritic tree and spine morphogenesis 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2011;31(46):16581-16590.
Mutations in the gene encoding β-III spectrin give rise to spinocerebellar ataxia type 5 (SCA5), a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive thinning of the molecular layer, loss of Purkinje cells and increasing motor deficits. A mouse lacking full-length β-III spectrin (β-III−/−) displays a similar phenotype. In vitro and in vivo analyses of Purkinje cells lacking β-III spectrin, reveal a critical role for β-III spectrin in Purkinje cell morphological development. Disruption of the normally well-ordered dendritic arborization occurs in Purkinje cells from β-III−/− mice, specifically showing a loss of monoplanar organization, smaller average dendritic diameter and reduced densities of Purkinje cell spines and synapses. Early morphological defects appear to affect distribution of dendritic, but not axonal, proteins. This study confirms that thinning of the molecular layer associated with disease pathogenesis is a consequence of Purkinje cell dendritic degeneration, as Purkinje cells from 8-month old β-III−/− mice have drastically reduced dendritic volumes, surface areas and total dendritic lengths compared to 5–6 week old β-III−/− mice. These findings highlight a critical role of β-III spectrin in dendritic biology and are consistent with an early developmental defect in β-III−/− mice, with abnormal Purkinje cell dendritic morphology potentially underlying disease pathogenesis.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3332-11.2011
PMCID: PMC3374928  PMID: 22090485
9.  Nuclear Factor-κB Contributes to Neuron-Dependent Induction of GLT-1 Expression in Astrocytes 
The GLT-1 (EAAT2) subtype of glutamate transporter ensures crisp excitatory signaling and limits excitotoxicity in the CNS. Astrocytic expression of GLT-1 is regulated during development, by neuronal activity, and in neurodegenerative diseases. Although neurons activate astrocytic expression of GLT-1, the mechanisms involved have not been identified. In the present study, astrocytes from transgenic mice that express enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) under the control of a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) containing a very large region of DNA surrounding the GLT-1 gene (BAC GLT-1 eGFP mice) were used to assess the role of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) in neuron-dependent activation of the GLT-1 promoter. We provide evidence that neurons activate NF-κB signaling in astrocytes. Transduction of astrocytes from the BAC GLT-1 eGFP mice with dominant-negative inhibitors of NF-κB signaling completely blocked neuron-dependent activation of a NF-κB reporter construct and attenuated induction of eGFP. Exogenous expression of p65 and/or p50 NF-κB subunits induced expression of eGFP or GLT-1 and increased GLT-1-mediated transport activity. Using wild type and mutant GLT-1 promoter reporter constructs, we found that NF-κB sites at −583 or −251 relative to the transcription start site eliminated neuron-dependent reporter activation. Electrophoretic mobility shift and supershift assays reveal that p65 and p50 interact with these same sites ex vivo. Finally, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) showed that p65 and p50 interact with these sites in adult cortex, but not in kidney (a tissue that expresses no detectable GLT-1). Together, these studies strongly suggest that NF-κB contributes to neuron-dependent regulation of astrocytic GLT-1 transcription.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0302-11.2011
PMCID: PMC3138498  PMID: 21697367
glutamate transport; NF-κB; astrocytes; p65; p50; EAAT2; GLT-1; IκBα
10.  NG2+ CNS glial progenitors remain committed to the oligodendrocyte lineage in postnatal life and following neurodegeneration 
Neuron  2010;68(4):668-681.
SUMMARY
The mammalian CNS contains a ubiquitous population of glial progenitors known as NG2+ cells that have the ability to develop into oligodendrocytes and undergo dramatic changes in response to injury and demyelination. Although it has been reported that NG2+ cells are multipotent, their fate in health and disease remains controversial. Here, we generated PDGFαR-CreER transgenic mice and followed their fate in vivo in the developing and adult CNS. These studies revealed that NG2+ cells in the postnatal CNS generate myelinating oligodendrocytes, but not astrocytes or neurons. In regions of neurodegeneration in the spinal cord of ALS mice, NG2+ cells exhibited enhanced proliferation and accelerated differentiation into oligodendrocytes, but remained committed to the oligodendrocyte lineage. These results indicate that NG2+ cells in the normal CNS are oligodendrocyte precursors with restricted lineage potential, and that cell loss and gliosis are not sufficient to alter the lineage potential of these progenitors in ALS mice.
doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2010.09.009
PMCID: PMC2989827  PMID: 21092857
11.  Zones of Enhanced Glutamate Release from Climbing Fibers in the Mammalian Cerebellum 
SUMMARY
Purkinje cells in the mammalian cerebellum are remarkably homogeneous in shape and orientation, yet they exhibit regional differences in gene expression. Purkinje cells that express high levels of zebrin II (aldolase C) and the glutamate transporter EAAT4, cluster in parasagittal zones that receive input from distinct groups of climbing fibers (CFs); however, the physiological properties of CFs that target these molecularly distinct Purkinje cells have not been determined. Here we report that CFs that innervate Purkinje cells in zebrin II immunoreactive (Z+) zones release more glutamate per action potential than CFs in Z− zones. CF terminals in Z+ zones had larger pools of release-ready vesicles, exhibited enhanced multivesicular release, and produced larger glutamate transients. As a result, CF-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) in Purkinje cells decayed more slowly in Z+ zones, which triggered longer duration complex spikes containing a greater number of spikelets. The differences in the duration of CF EPSCs between Z+ and Z− zones persisted in EAAT4 knockout mice, indicating that EAAT4 is not required for maintaining this aspect of CF function. These results indicate that the organization of the cerebellum into discrete longitudinal zones is defined not only by molecular phenotype of Purkinje cells within zones, but also by the physiological properties of CFs that project to these distinct regions. The enhanced release of glutamate from CFs in Z+ zones may alter the threshold for synaptic plasticity and prolong inhibition of cerebellar output neurons in deep cerebellar nuclei.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5118-09.2010
PMCID: PMC2894469  PMID: 20505095
12.  Tumor necrosis factor-α modulates glutamate transport in the CNS and is a critical determinant of outcome from viral encephalomyelitis 
Brain research  2009;1263:143-154.
Neuroadapted Sindbis virus (NSV) is a neuronotropic virus that causes a fulminant encephalomyelitis in susceptible mice due to death of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. We and others have found that uninfected motor neurons die in response to NSV infection, at least in part due to disrupted astrocytic glutamate transport, resulting in excitotoxic motor neuron death. Here, we examined the mechanisms of astrocyte dysregulation associated with NSV infection. Treatment of organotypic slice cultures with NSV results in viral replication, cell death, altered astrocyte morphology, and the downregulation of the astrocytic glutamate transporter, GLT-1. We have found that TNF-α can mediate GLT-1 downregulation. Furthermore, TNF-α deficient mice infected with NSV exhibit neither GLT-1 downregulation nor neuronal death of brainstem and cervical spinal cord motor neurons and have markedly reduced mortality. These findings have implications for disease intervention and therapeutic development for the prevention of CNS damage associated with inflammatory responses.
doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2009.01.040
PMCID: PMC2952353  PMID: 19368827
Astrocyte; TNF-α; Motor neuron; GLT-1; Glutamate; Virus
13.  Pre-synaptic regulation of astroglial excitatory neurotransmitter transporter GLT1 
Neuron  2009;61(6):880-894.
SUMMARY
The neuron-astrocyte synaptic complex is a fundamental operational unit of the nervous system. Astroglia play a central role in the regulation of synaptic glutamate, via neurotransmitter transport by GLT1/EAAT2. The astroglial mechanisms underlying this essential neuron-glial communication are not known. Here we show that presynaptic terminals are sufficient and necessary for GLT1/EAAT2 transcriptional activation and have identified the molecular pathway that regulates astroglial responses to presynaptic input. Presynaptic terminals regulate astroglial GLT1/EAAT2 via kappa B-motif binding phosphoprotein (KBBP), the mouse homologue of human heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein K (hnRNP K), which binds to an essential element of GLT1/EAAT2 promoter. This neuron-stimulated factor is required for GLT1/EATT2 transcriptional activation and is responsible for astroglial alterations in neural injury. Denervation of neuron-astrocyte signaling in vivo, by acute corticospinal tract transection, ricin-induced motor neuron death, or chronic neurodegeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) all result in reduced astroglial KBBP expression and transcriptional dysfunction of astroglial transporter expression. Our studies indicate that presynaptic elements dynamically coordinate normal astroglial function and also provide a fundamental signaling mechanism by which altered neuronal function and injury leads to dysregulated astroglia in CNS disease.
doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2009.02.010
PMCID: PMC2743171  PMID: 19323997
14.  Focal Transplantation-based Astrocyte Replacement is Neuroprotective in a Model of Motor Neuron Disease 
Nature neuroscience  2008;11(11):1294-1301.
Cellular abnormalities in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are not limited to motor neurons. Astrocyte dysfunction occurs in human ALS and SOD1G93A animal models. Therefore, the value of focal enrichment of normal astrocytes was investigated using transplantation of lineage-restricted astrocyte precursors, Glial-Restricted Precursors (GRPs). GRPs were transplanted around cervical spinal cord respiratory motor neuron pools, the principal cells responsible for death in this neurodegenerative disease. GRPs survived in diseased tissue, differentiated efficiently into astrocytes, and reduced microgliosis in SOD1G93A rat cervical spinal cord. GRPs extended survival and disease duration, attenuated motor neuron loss, and slowed declines in fore-limb motor and respiratory physiological function. Neuroprotection was mediated in part by the primary astrocyte glutamate transporter, GLT1. These findings demonstrate the feasibility and efficacy of transplantation-based astrocyte replacement, and show that targeted multi-segmental cell delivery to cervical spinal cord is a promising therapeutic strategy for slowing focal motor neuron loss associated with ALS.
doi:10.1038/nn.2210
PMCID: PMC2656686  PMID: 18931666
stem cell; grafting; transplantation; motor neuron; neurodegeneration; replacement; neuroprotection; non-cell autonomous; astroglia; astrocyte; neural precursor cell; progenitor; lineage-restricted precursor; glial precursor; ALS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; SOD1
15.  Propentofylline-Induced Astrocyte Modulation Leads to Alterations in Glial Glutamate Promoter Activation Following Spinal Nerve Transection 
Neuroscience  2008;152(4):1086-1092.
We have previously shown that the atypical methylxanthine, propentofylline, reduces mechanical allodynia after peripheral nerve transection in a rodent model of neuropathy. In the present study, we sought to determine whether propentofylline-induced glial modulation alters spinal glutamate transporters, GLT-1 and GLAST in vivo, which may contribute to reduced behavioral hypersensitivity after nerve injury. In order to specifically examine the expression of the spinal glutamate transporters, a novel line of double transgenic GLT-1-eGFP/GLAST-DsRed promoter mice was used. Adult mice received propentofylline (10 mg/kg) or saline via intraperitoneal injection starting 1-hour prior to L5-spinal nerve transection and then daily for 12 days. Mice receiving saline exhibited punctate expression of both eGFP (GLT-1 promoter activation) and DsRed (GLAST promoter activation) in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord, which was decreased ipsilateral to nerve injury on day 12. Propentofylline administration reinstated promoter activation on the injured side as evidenced by an equal number of eGFP (GLT-1) and DsRed (GLAST) puncta in both dorsal horns. As demonstrated in previous studies, propentofylline induced a concomitant reversal of L5 spinal nerve transection-induced expression of Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP). The ability of propentofylline to alter glial glutamate transporters highlights the importance of controlling aberrant glial activation in neuropathic pain and suggests one possible mechanism for the anti-allodynic action of this drug.
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.01.065
PMCID: PMC2423012  PMID: 18358622
Spinal glia; Neuropathic pain; Neuroimmune; Peripheral nerve injury; Mice
16.  GLT-1 Promoter Activity in Astrocytes and Neurons of Mouse Hippocampus and Somatic Sensory Cortex 
GLT-1 eGFP BAC reporter transgenic adult mice were used to detect GLT-1 gene expression in individual cells of CA1, CA3 and SI, and eGFP fluorescence was measured to analyze quantitatively GLT-1 promoter activity in different cells of neocortex and hippocampus. Virtually all GFAP+ astrocytes were eGFP+; we also found that about 80% of neurons in CA3 pyramidal layer, 10–70% of neurons in I-VI layers of SI and rare neurons in all strata of CA1 and in strata oriens and radiatum of CA3 were eGFP+. Analysis of eGFP intensity showed that astrocytes had a higher GLT-1 promoter activity in SI than in CA1 and CA3, and that neurons had the highest levels of GLT-1 promoter activity in CA3 stratum pyramidale and in layer VI of SI. Finally, we observed that the intensity of GLT-1 promoter activity in neurons is 1–20% of that measured in astrocytes. These results showed that in the hippocampus and neocortex GLT-1 promoter activity is observed in astrocytes and neurons, detailed the distribution of GLT-1 expressing neurons, and indicated that GLT-1 promoter activity in both astrocytes and neurons varies in different brain regions.
doi:10.3389/neuro.05.031.2009
PMCID: PMC2813724  PMID: 20161698
glutamate transporters; GLT-1/EAAT2; neurons; astrocytes; hippocampus; neocortex
17.  Intraparenchymal spinal cord delivery of adeno-associated virus IGF-1 is protective in the SOD1G93A model of ALS 
Brain research  2007;1185:256-265.
The potent neuroprotective activities of neurotrophic factors, including insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), make them promising candidates for treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In an effort to maximize rate of motor neuron transduction, achieve high levels of spinal IGF-1, and thus enhance therapeutic benefit, we injected an adeno-associated virus 2 (AAV2)-based vector encoding human IGF-1 (CERE-130) into lumbar spinal cord parenchyma of SOD1G93A mice. We observed robust and long-term intraspinal IGF-1 expression and partial rescue of lumbar spinal cord motor neurons, as well as sex-specific delayed disease onset, weight loss, decline in hindlimb grip strength and increased animal survival.
doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2007.09.034
PMCID: PMC2265207  PMID: 17963733
Adeno; associated virus; insulin; like growth factor 1; gene therapy; neurodegeneration; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; neuroprotection
18.  Reticulon RTN2B Regulates Trafficking and Function of Neuronal Glutamate Transporter EAAC1* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2007;283(10):6561-6571.
Excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) are the primary regulators of extracellular glutamate concentrations in the central nervous system. Their dysfunction may contribute to several neurological diseases. To date, five distinct mammalian glutamate transporters have been cloned. In brain, EAAC1 (excitatory amino acid carrier 1) is the primary neuronal glutamate transporter, localized on the perisynaptic membranes that are near release sites. Despite its potential importance in synaptic actions, little is known concerning the regulation of EAAC1 trafficking from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to the cell surface. Previously, we identified an EAAC1-associated protein, GTRAP3-18, an ER protein that prevents ER exit of EAAC1 when induced. Here we show that RTN2B, a member of the reticulon protein family that mainly localizes in the ER and ER exit sites interacts with EAAC1 and GTRAP3-18. EAAC1 and GTRAP3-18 bind to different regions of RTN2B. Each protein can separately and independently form complexes with EAAC1. RTN2B enhances ER exit and the cell surface composition of EAAC1 in heterologous cells. Expression of short interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of RTN2B decreases the EAAC1 protein level in neurons. Overall, our results suggest that RTN2B functions as a positive regulator in the delivery of EAAC1 from the ER to the cell surface. These studies indicate that transporter exit from the ER controlled by the interaction with its ER binding partner represents a critical regulatory step in glutamate transporter trafficking to the cell surface.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M708096200
PMCID: PMC2581797  PMID: 18096700
19.  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 2-Deficiency Leads to Neuronal Degeneration in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis through Altered AMPA Receptor Trafficking 
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the most common adult-onset motor neuron disease is caused by a selective loss of motor neurons. One form of juvenile onset autosomal recessive ALS (ALS2) has been linked to the loss of function of the ALS2 gene. The pathogenic mechanism of ALS2-deficiency, however, remains unclear. To further understand the function of alsin that is encoded by the full-length ALS2 gene, we screened proteins interacting with alsin. Here, we report that alsin interacted with glutamate receptor interacting protein 1 (GRIP1) both in vitro and in vivo, and colocalized with GRIP1 in neurons. In support of the physiological interaction between alsin and GRIP1, the subcellular distribution of GRIP1 was altered in ALS2-/- spinal motor neurons, which correlates with a significant reduction of AMPA-type glutamate receptor subunit 2 (GluR2) at the synaptic/cell surface of ALS2-/- neurons. The decrease of calcium-impermeable GluR2-containing AMPA receptors at the cell/synaptic surface rendered ALS2-/- neurons more susceptible to glutamate receptor-mediated neurotoxicity. Our findings reveal a novel function of alsin in AMPA receptor trafficking and provide a novel pathogenic link between ALS2-deficiency and motor neuron degeneration, suggesting a protective role of alsin in maintaining the survival of motor neurons.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2084-06.2006
PMCID: PMC2556290  PMID: 17093100
ALS2; knock-out mouse; motor neuron; GRIP1; AMPA receptor; excitotoxicity
20.  Messenger RNA Oxidation Occurs Early in Disease Pathogenesis and Promotes Motor Neuron Degeneration in ALS 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(8):e2849.
Background
Accumulating evidence indicates that RNA oxidation is involved in a wide variety of neurological diseases and may be associated with neuronal deterioration during the process of neurodegeneration. However, previous studies were done in postmortem tissues or cultured neurons. Here, we used transgenic mice to demonstrate the role of RNA oxidation in the process of neurodegeneration.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We demonstrated that messenger RNA (mRNA) oxidation is a common feature in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients as well as in many different transgenic mice expressing familial ALS-linked mutant copper-zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD1). In mutant SOD1 mice, increased mRNA oxidation primarily occurs in the motor neurons and oligodendrocytes of the spinal cord at an early, pre-symptomatic stage. Identification of oxidized mRNA species revealed that some species are more vulnerable to oxidative damage, and importantly, many oxidized mRNA species have been implicated in the pathogenesis of ALS. Oxidative modification of mRNA causes reduced protein expression. Reduced mRNA oxidation by vitamin E restores protein expression and partially protects motor neurons.
Conclusion/Significance
These findings suggest that mRNA oxidation is an early event associated with motor neuron deterioration in ALS, and may be also a common early event preceding neuron degeneration in other neurological diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002849
PMCID: PMC2481395  PMID: 18682740
21.  A Neuronal Glutamate Transporter Contributes to Neurotransmitter GABA Synthesis and Epilepsy 
The predominant neuronal glutamate transporter, EAAC1 (for excitatory amino acid carrier-1), is localized to the dendrites and somata of many neurons. Rare presynaptic localization is restricted to GABA terminals. Because glutamate is a precursor for GABA synthesis, we hypothesized that EAAC1 may play a role in regulating GABA synthesis and, thus, could cause epilepsy in rats when inactivated. Reduced expression of EAAC1 by antisense treatment led to behavioral abnormalities, including staring–freezing episodes and electrographic (EEG) seizures. Extracellular hippocampal and thalamocortical slice recordings showed excessive excitability in antisense-treated rats. Patch-clamp recordings of miniature IPSCs (mIPSCs) conducted in CA1 pyramidal neurons in slices from EAAC1 antisense-treated animals demonstrated a significant decrease in mIPSC amplitude, indicating decreased tonic inhibition. There was a 50% loss of hippocampal GABA levels associated with knockdown of EAAC1, and newly synthesized GABA from extracellular glutamate was significantly impaired by reduction of EAAC1 expression. EAAC1 may participate in normal GABA neurosynthesis and limbic hyperexcitability, whereas epilepsy can result from a disruption of the interaction between EAAC1 and GABA metabolism.
PMCID: PMC2483507  PMID: 12151515
EAAC1; transport; antisense; GABA; metabolism; epilepsy
22.  Design and Initial Results of a Multi-Phase Randomized Trial of Ceftriaxone in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61177.
Objectives
Ceftriaxone increases expression of the astrocytic glutamate transporter, EAAT2, which might protect from glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity. A trial using a novel three stage nonstop design, incorporating Phases I-III, tested ceftriaxone in ALS. Stage 1 determined the cerebrospinal fluid pharmacokinetics of ceftriaxone in subjects with ALS. Stage 2 evaluated safety and tolerability for 20-weeks. Analysis of the pharmacokinetics, tolerability, and safety was used to determine the ceftriaxone dosage for Stage 3 efficacy testing.
Methods
In Stage 1, 66 subjects at ten clinical sites were enrolled and randomized equally into three study groups receiving intravenous placebo, ceftriaxone 2 grams daily or ceftriaxone 4 grams daily divided BID. Participants provided serum and cerebrospinal fluid for pharmacokinetic analysis on study day 7. Participants continued their assigned treatment in Stage 2. The Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) reviewed the data after the last participants completed 20 weeks on study drug.
Results
Stage 1 analysis revealed linear pharmacokinetics, and CSF trough levels for both dosage levels exceeding the pre-specified target trough level of 1 µM (0.55 µg/mL). Tolerability (Stages 1 and 2) results showed that ceftriaxone at dosages up to 4 grams/day was well tolerated at 20 weeks. Biliary adverse events were more common with ceftriaxone but not dose-dependent and improved with ursodeoxycholic (ursodiol) therapy.
Conclusions
The goals of Stages 1 and 2 of the ceftriaxone trial were successfully achieved. Based on the pre-specified decision rules, the DSMB recommended the use of ceftriaxone 4 g/d (divided BID) for Stage 3, which recently closed.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00349622.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061177
PMCID: PMC3629222  PMID: 23613806

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