Posttranslational modifications (PTMs) are common among proteins that aggregate in neurodegenerative disease, yet how PTMs impact the aggregate conformation and disease progression remains unclear. By engineering knockin mice expressing prion protein (PrP) lacking 2 N-linked glycans (Prnp180Q/196Q), we provide evidence that glycans reduce spongiform degeneration and hinder plaque formation in prion disease. Prnp180Q/196Q mice challenged with 2 subfibrillar, non–plaque-forming prion strains instead developed plaques highly enriched in ADAM10-cleaved PrP and heparan sulfate (HS). Intriguingly, a third strain composed of intact, glycophosphatidylinositol-anchored (GPI-anchored) PrP was relatively unchanged, forming diffuse, HS-deficient deposits in both the Prnp180Q/196Q and WT mice, underscoring the pivotal role of the GPI-anchor in driving the aggregate conformation and disease phenotype. Finally, knockin mice expressing triglycosylated PrP (Prnp187N) challenged with a plaque-forming prion strain showed a phenotype reversal, with a striking disease acceleration and switch from plaques to predominantly diffuse, subfibrillar deposits. Our findings suggest that the dominance of subfibrillar aggregates in prion disease is due to the replication of GPI-anchored prions, with fibrillar plaques forming from poorly glycosylated, GPI-anchorless prions that interact with extracellular HS. These studies provide insight into how PTMs impact PrP interactions with polyanionic cofactors, and highlight PTMs as a major force driving the prion disease phenotype.
Alejandro M. Sevillano, Patricia Aguilar-Calvo, Timothy D. Kurt, Jessica A. Lawrence, Katrin Soldau, Thu H. Nam, Taylor Schumann, Donald P. Pizzo, Sofie Nyström, Biswa Choudhury, Hermann Altmeppen, Jeffrey D. Esko, Markus Glatzel, K. Peter R. Nilsson, Christina J. Sigurdson
After trauma, regeneration of adult CNS axons is abortive causing devastating neurologic deficits. Despite progress in rehabilitative care, there is no effective treatment stimulating axon growth following injury. Using models with different regenerative capacities, followed by gain- and loss-of-function analysis, we identified profilin1 (Pfn1) as a coordinator of actin and microtubules (MTs), powering axon growth and regeneration. In growth cones, Pfn1 increased actin retrograde flow, MT growth speed and invasion of filopodia by MTs, orchestrating cytoskeleton dynamics towards axon growth. In vitro, active Pfn1 promoted MT growth in a formin-dependent manner, whereas localization of MTs to growth cone filopodia was facilitated by direct MT binding and interaction with formins. In vivo, Pfn1 ablation limited regeneration of growth-competent axons after sciatic nerve and spinal cord injury. Adeno-associated viral (AAV) delivery of constitutively active Pfn1 to rodents promoted axon regeneration, neuromuscular junction maturation and functional recovery of injured sciatic nerves, and increased the ability of regenerating axons to penetrate the inhibitory spinal cord glial scar. Thus, we identify Pfn1 as an important regulator of axon regeneration and suggest that AAV-mediated delivery of constitutively active Pfn1, together with the identification of modulators of Pfn1 activity, should be considered to treat the injured nervous system.
Rita Pinto-Costa, Sara Castro Sousa, Sérgio C. Leite, Joana Nogueira-Rodrigues, Tiago Ferreira da Silva, Diana Machado, Joana Beatriz Moreira Marques, Ana Catarina Costa, Márcia A. Liz, Francesca Bartolini, Pedro Brites, Mercedes Costell, Reinhard Fässler, Monica M. Sousa
Induction of the inflammasome protein cryopyrin (NLRP3) in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) promotes release of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β (IL1β) in obesity. While this mechanism contributes to peripheral metabolic dysfunction, effects on the brain remain unexplored. These studies investigated whether visceral adipose NLRP3 impairs cognition by activating microglial interleukin-1 receptor 1 (IL1R1). After observing protection against obesity-induced neuroinflammation and cognitive impairment in NLRP3KO mice, we transplanted VAT from obese WT or NLRP3KO donors into lean recipients. Transplantation of VAT from a WT donor (TRANSWT) increased hippocampal IL1β and impaired cognition, but VAT transplants from comparably obese NLRP3KO donors (TRANSKO) had no effect. Visceral adipose NLRP3 was required for deficits in long-term potentiation (LTP) in transplant recipients, and LTP impairment in TRANSWT mice was IL1-dependent. Flow cytometric and gene expression analyses revealed that VAT transplantation recapitulated the effects of obesity on microglial activation and IL1β gene expression, and visualization of hippocampal microglia revealed similar effects in vivo. Inducible ablation of IL1R1 in CX3CR1-expressing cells eliminated cognitive impairment in mice with dietary obesity and in transplant recipients and restored immunoquiescence in hippocampal microglia. These results indicate that visceral adipose NLRP3 impairs memory via IL1-mediated microglial activation, and suggest that NLRP3-IL1β signaling may underlie correlations between visceral adiposity and cognitive impairment in humans.
De-Huang Guo, Masaki Yamamoto, Caterina M. Hernandez, Hesam Khodadadi, Babak Baban, Alexis M. Stranahan
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after exposure to severe psychological trauma, leaving patients with disabling anxiety, nightmares, and flashbacks. Current treatments are only partially effective, and development of better treatments is hampered by limited knowledge of molecular mechanisms underlying PTSD. We have discovered that the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and FK506 binding protein 51 (FKBP51) form a protein complex that is elevated in PTSD patients compared with unaffected control subjects, subjects exposed to trauma without PTSD, and patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). The GR-FKBP51 complex is also elevated in fear-conditioned mice, an aversive learning paradigm that models some aspects of PTSD. Both PTSD patients and fear-conditioned mice had decreased GR phosphorylation, decreased nuclear GR, and lower expression of 14-3-3ε, a gene regulated by GR. We created a peptide that disrupts GR-FKBP51 binding and reverses behavioral and molecular changes induced by fear conditioning. This peptide reduces freezing time and increases GR phosphorylation, GR-FKBP52 binding, GR nuclear translocation, and 14-3-3ε expression in fear-conditioned mice. These experiments demonstrate a molecular mechanism contributing to PTSD and suggest that the GR-FKBP51 complex may be a diagnostic biomarker and a potential therapeutic target for preventing or treating PTSD.
Haiyin Li, Ping Su, Terence K.Y. Lai, Anlong Jiang, Jing Liu, Dongxu Zhai, Charlie T.G. Campbell, Frankie H.F. Lee, WeiDong Yong, Suvercha Pasricha, Shupeng Li, Albert H.C. Wong, Kerry J. Ressler, Fang Liu
Type I interferon (IFN) is a key cytokine that curbs viral infection and cell malignancy. Previously, we have demonstrated a potent IFN immunogenicity of nucleic acid (NA)-containing amyloid fibrils in the periphery. Here, we investigated whether IFN is associated with β-amyloidosis inside the brain and contributes to neuropathology. An IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) signature was detected in the brains of multiple murine Alzheimer disease (AD) models, a phenomenon also observed in wild-type mouse brain challenged with generic NA-containing amyloid fibrils. In vitro, microglia innately responded to NA-containing amyloid fibrils. In AD models, activated ISG-expressing microglia exclusively surrounded NA-positive amyloid β plaques, which accumulated in an age-dependent manner. Brain administration of rIFNβ resulted in microglial activation and complement C3-dependent synapse elimination in vivo. Conversely, selective IFN receptor blockade effectively diminished the ongoing microgliosis and synapse loss in AD models. Moreover, we detected activated ISG-expressing microglia enveloping NA-containing neuritic plaques in post-mortem brains of AD patients. Gene expression interrogation revealed that IFN pathway was grossly upregulated in clinical AD and significantly correlated with disease severity and complement activation. Therefore, IFN constitutes a pivotal element within the neuroinflammatory network of AD and critically contributes to neuropathogenic processes.
Ethan R. Roy, Baiping Wang, Ying-Wooi Wan, Gabriel S. Chiu, Allysa L. Cole, Zhuoran Yin, Nicholas E. Propson, Yin Xu, Joanna L. Jankowsky, Zhandong Liu, Virginia M.Y. Lee, John Q. Trojanowski, Stephen D. Ginsberg, Oleg Butovsky, Hui Zheng, Wei Cao
Deficits in social interaction (SI) are a core symptom of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), however treatments for social deficits are notably lacking. Elucidating brain circuits and neuromodulatory signaling systems that regulate sociability could facilitate a deeper understanding of ASD pathophysiology and reveal novel treatments for ASD. Here we found that in vivo optogenetic activation of the basolateral amygdala-nucleus accumbens (BLA-NAc) glutamatergic circuit reduced SI and increased social avoidance in mice. Furthermore, we found that 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling reduced BLA-NAc glutamatergic activity, and that pharmacological 2-AG augmentation via administration of JZL184 blocked SI deficits associated with in vivo BLA-NAc stimulation. Additionally, optogenetic inhibition of the BLA-NAc circuit significantly increased SI in the Shank3B-/-, an ASD model with substantial SI impairment, without affecting SI in wild-type mice. Finally, we demonstrated that JZL184 delivered systemically or directly to the NAc also normalized SI deficits in Shank3B-/-mice, while ex vivo JZL184 application corrected aberrant NAc excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission and reduced BLA-NAc-elicited feedforward inhibition of NAc neurons in Shank3B-/- mice. These data reveal circuit-level and neuromodulatory mechanisms regulating social function relevant to ASD and suggest 2-AG augmentation could reduce social deficits via modulation of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission in the NAc.
Oakleigh M. Folkes, Rita Báldi, Veronika Kondev, David J. Marcus, Nolan D. Hartley, Brandon D. Turner, Jade K. Ayers, Jordan J. Baechle, Maya P. Misra, Megan Altemus, Carrie A. Grueter, Brad A. Grueter, Sachin Patel
BACKGROUND. Cerebral malaria (CM) accounts for nearly 400,000 deaths annually in African children. Current dogma suggests that CM results from infected RBC (iRBC) sequestration in the brain microvasculature and resulting sequelae. Therapies targeting these events have been unsuccessful; findings in experimental models suggest that CD8+ T cells drive disease pathogenesis. However, these data have largely been ignored because corroborating evidence in humans is lacking. This work fills a critical gap in our understanding of CM pathogenesis that is impeding development of therapeutics. METHODS. Using multiplex immunohistochemistry, we characterized cerebrovascular immune cells in brain sections from 34 children who died from CM or other causes. Children were grouped by clinical diagnosis (CM+ or –), iRBC sequestration (Seqhi, lo, or 0) and HIV status (HIV+ or –). RESULTS. We identified effector CD3+CD8+ T cells engaged on the cerebrovasculature in 69% of CM+ HIV– children. The number of intravascular CD3+CD8+ T cells was influenced by CM status (CM+ vs –, P = 0.004) and sequestration level (Seqhi > lo, P = 0.010). HIV co-infection significantly increased T cell numbers and shifted cells from an intravascular (P = 0.004) to perivascular (P < 0.0001) distribution. CONCLUSION. Within the studied cohort, CM is associated with cerebrovascular engagement of CD3+CD8+ T cells, which is exacerbated by HIV coinfection. Thus, CD3+CD8+ T cells are highly promising targets for CM adjunctive therapy, opening new avenues for the treatment of this deadly disease. FUNDING. This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health.
Brittany A. Riggle, Monica Manglani, Dragan Maric, Kory R. Johnson, Myoung-Hwa Lee, Osorio Lopes Abath Neto, Terrie E. Taylor, Karl B. Seydel, Avindra Nath, Louis H. Miller, Dorian B. McGavern, Susan K. Pierce
Background: In retinitis pigmentosa (RP) rod photoreceptors degenerate from one of many mutations after which cones are compromised by oxidative stress. N-acetylcysteine (NAC) reduces oxidative damage and increases cone function/survival in RP models. We tested the safety, tolerability, and visual function effects of oral NAC in RP patients. Methods: Subjects (n = 10 per cohort) received 600 mg (cohort 1), 1200 mg (cohort 2), or 1800 mg (cohort 3) NAC BID for 12 weeks and then TID for 12 weeks. Best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), macular sensitivity, ellipsoid zone (EZ) width, and aqueous NAC were measured. Linear mixed effects models were used to estimate the rates of changes during the treatment period. Results: There were 9 drug-related gastrointestinal adverse events which resolved spontaneously or with dose reduction (MTD 1800 mg bid). During the 24 week treatment period, mean BCVA significantly improved at 0.4 (95% CI 0.2–0.6, P < 0.001), 0.5 (95% CI 0.3–0.7, P < 0.001) and 0.2 (95% CI 0.02–0.4, P = 0.03) letters/month in cohorts 1, 2 and 3, respectively. There was no significant improvement in mean sensitivity (MS) over time in cohorts 1 and 2, but there was in cohort 3 (0.15 dB/month, 95%CI 0.04–0.26). There was no significant change in mean EZ width in any cohort. Conclusion: Oral NAC is safe and well-tolerated in patients with moderately advanced RP and may improve suboptimally functioning macular cones. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial is needed to determine if oral NAC can provide long term stabilization and/or improvement in visual function in patients with RP.
Peter A. Campochiaro, Mustafa Iftikhar, Gulnar Hafiz, Anam Akhlaq, Grace Tsai, Dagmar Wehling, Lili Lu, G. Michael Wall, Mandeep S. Singh, Xiangrong Kong
Axon regeneration failure causes neurological deficits and long-term disability after spinal cord injury (SCI). Here, we found that the α2δ2 subunit of voltage-gated calcium channels negatively regulates axon growth and regeneration of corticospinal neurons, the cells that originate the corticospinal tract. Increased α2δ2 expression in corticospinal neurons contributed to loss of corticospinal regrowth ability during postnatal development and after SCI. In contrast, α2δ2 pharmacological blockade through gabapentin administration promoted corticospinal structural plasticity and regeneration in adulthood. Using an optogenetic strategy combined with in vivo electrophysiological recording, we demonstrated that regenerating corticospinal axons functionally integrate into spinal circuits. Mice administered gabapentin recovered upper extremity function after cervical SCI. Importantly, such recovery relies on reorganization of the corticospinal pathway, as chemogenetic silencing of injured corticospinal neurons transiently abrogated recovery. Thus, targeting α2δ2 with a clinically relevant treatment strategy aids repair of motor circuits after SCI.
Wenjing Sun, Molly J.E. Larson, Conrad M. Kiyoshi, Alexander J. Annett, William A. Stalker, Juan Peng, Andrea Tedeschi
Aberrant Tau inclusions in the locus coeruleus (LC) are the earliest detectable Alzheimer’s disease–like (AD-like) neuropathology in the human brain. However, why LC neurons are selectively vulnerable to developing early Tau pathology and degenerating later in disease and whether the LC might seed the stereotypical spread of Tau pathology to the rest of the brain remain unclear. Here, we show that 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycolaldehyde, which is produced exclusively in noradrenergic neurons by monoamine oxidase A metabolism of norepinephrine, activated asparagine endopeptidase that cleaved Tau at residue N368 into aggregation- and propagation-prone forms, thus leading to LC degeneration and the spread of Tau pathology. Activation of asparagine endopeptidase–cleaved Tau aggregation in vitro and in intact cells was triggered by 3,4-dihydroxyphenylglycolaldehyde, resulting in LC neurotoxicity and propagation of pathology to the forebrain. Thus, our findings reveal that norepinephrine metabolism and Tau cleavage represent the specific molecular mechanism underlying the selective vulnerability of LC neurons in AD.
Seong Su Kang, Xia Liu, Eun Hee Ahn, Jie Xiang, Fredric P. Manfredsson, Xifei Yang, Hongbo R. Luo, L. Cameron Liles, David Weinshenker, Keqiang Ye