The nonerythrocytic α-spectrin-1 (SPTAN1) gene encodes the cytoskeletal protein αII spectrin. Mutations in SPTAN1 cause early infantile epileptic encephalopathy type 5 (EIEE5); however, the role of αII spectrin in neurodevelopment and EIEE5 pathogenesis is unknown. Prior work suggests that αII spectrin is absent in the axon initial segment (AIS) and contributes to a diffusion barrier in the distal axon. Here, we have shown that αII spectrin is expressed ubiquitously in rodent and human somatodendritic and axonal domains. CRISPR-mediated deletion of Sptan1 in embryonic rat forebrain by in utero electroporation caused altered dendritic and axonal development, loss of the AIS, and decreased inhibitory innervation. Overexpression of human EIEE5 mutant SPTAN1 in embryonic rat forebrain and mouse hippocampal neurons led to similar developmental defects that were also observed in EIEE5 patient-derived neurons. Additionally, patient-derived neurons displayed aggregation of spectrin complexes. Taken together, these findings implicate αII spectrin in critical aspects of dendritic and axonal development and synaptogenesis, and support a dominant-negative mechanism of SPTAN1 mutations in EIEE5.
Yu Wang, Tuo Ji, Andrew D. Nelson, Katarzyna Glanowska, Geoffrey G. Murphy, Paul M. Jenkins, Jack M. Parent
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by the loss of dopamine (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc). DA neurons in the ventral tegmental area are more resistant to this degeneration than those in the SNc, though the mechanisms for selective resistance or vulnerability remain poorly understood. A key to elucidating these processes may lie within the subset of DA neurons that corelease glutamate and express the vesicular glutamate transporter VGLUT2. Here, we addressed the potential relationship between VGLUT expression and DA neuronal vulnerability by overexpressing VGLUT in DA neurons of flies and mice. In Drosophila, VGLUT overexpression led to loss of select DA neuron populations. Similarly, expression of VGLUT2 specifically in murine SNc DA neurons led to neuronal loss and Parkinsonian behaviors. Other neuronal cell types showed no such sensitivity, suggesting that DA neurons are distinctively vulnerable to VGLUT2 expression. Additionally, most DA neurons expressed VGLUT2 during development, and coexpression of VGLUT2 with DA markers increased following injury in the adult. Finally, conditional deletion of VGLUT2 made DA neurons more susceptible to Parkinsonian neurotoxins. These data suggest that the balance of VGLUT2 expression is a crucial determinant of DA neuron survival. Ultimately, manipulation of this VGLUT2-dependent process may represent an avenue for therapeutic development.
Thomas Steinkellner, Vivien Zell, Zachary J. Farino, Mark S. Sonders, Michael Villeneuve, Robin J. Freyberg, Serge Przedborski, Wei Lu, Zachary Freyberg, Thomas S. Hnasko
Dravet syndrome (DS) is a severe childhood-onset epilepsy commonly due to mutations of the sodium channel gene SCN1A. DS patients have a high risk of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP), believed to be due to cardiac mechanisms. Here we show that DS patients have peri-ictal respiratory dysfunction. One patient who had severe and prolonged postictal hypoventilation later died of SUDEP. Mice with an Scn1aR1407X/+ loss of function mutation died after spontaneous and heat-induced seizures due to central apnea followed by progressive bradycardia. Death could be prevented with mechanical ventilation after seizures induced by hyperthermia or maximal electroshock. Muscarinic receptor antagonists did not prevent bradycardia or death when given at doses selective for peripheral parasympathetic blockade, whereas apnea was prevented at doses known to be high enough to cross the blood brain barrier. Anoxia causes bradycardia due to a direct effect on the heart. We conclude that SUDEP in DS may result in some cases from primary central apnea, which can cause bradycardia presumably via an effect of hypoxemia on cardiac muscle.
YuJaung Kim, Eduardo Bravo, Caitlin K. Thirnbeck, Lori A. Smith-Mellecker, Se Hee Kim, Brian K. Gehlbach, Linda C. Laux, Douglas R. Nordli Jr., George B. Richerson
Macrophages are a source of both proinflammatory and restorative functions in damaged tissue through complex dynamic phenotypic changes. Here, we sought to determine whether monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) contribute to recovery after acute sterile brain injury. By profiling the transcriptional dynamics of MDMs in the murine brain after experimental intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), we found robust phenotypic changes in the infiltrating MDMs over time and demonstrated that MDMs are essential for optimal hematoma clearance and neurological recovery. Next, we identified the mechanism by which the engulfment of erythrocytes with exposed phosphatidylserine directly modulated the phenotype of both murine and human MDMs. In mice, loss of receptor tyrosine kinases AXL and MERTK reduced efferocytosis of eryptotic erythrocytes and hematoma clearance, worsened neurological recovery, exacerbated iron deposition, and decreased alternative activation of macrophages after ICH. Patients with higher circulating soluble AXL had poor 1-year outcomes after ICH onset, suggesting that therapeutically augmenting efferocytosis may improve functional outcomes by both reducing tissue injury and promoting the development of reparative macrophage responses. Thus, our results identify the efferocytosis of eryptotic erythrocytes through AXL/MERTK as a critical mechanism modulating macrophage phenotype and contributing to recovery from ICH.
Che-Feng Chang, Brittany A. Goods, Michael H. Askenase, Matthew D. Hammond, Stephen C. Renfroe, Arthur F. Steinschneider, Margaret J. Landreneau, Youxi Ai, Hannah E. Beatty, Luís Henrique Angenendt da Costa, Matthias Mack, Kevin N. Sheth, David M. Greer, Anita Huttner, Daniel Coman, Fahmeed Hyder, Sourav Ghosh, Carla V. Rothlin, J. Christopher Love, Lauren H. Sansing
The underlying cellular mechanisms of catatonia, an executive “psychomotor” syndrome that is observed across neuropsychiatric diseases, have remained obscure. In humans and mice, reduced expression of the structural myelin protein CNP is associated with catatonic signs in an age-dependent manner, pointing to the involvement of myelin-producing oligodendrocytes. Here, we showed that the underlying cause of catatonic signs is the low-grade inflammation of white matter tracts, which marks a final common pathway in Cnp-deficient and other mutant mice with minor myelin abnormalities. The inhibitor of CSF1 receptor kinase signaling, PLX5622, depleted microglia and alleviated the catatonic symptoms of Cnp mutants. Thus, microglia and low-grade inflammation of myelinated tracts emerged as the trigger of a previously unexplained mental condition. We observed a very high (25%) prevalence of individuals with catatonic signs in a deeply phenotyped schizophrenia sample (n = 1095). Additionally, we found the loss-of-function allele of a myelin-specific gene (CNP rs2070106-AA) associated with catatonia in 2 independent schizophrenia cohorts and also associated with white matter hyperintensities in a general population sample. Since the catatonic syndrome is likely a surrogate marker for other executive function defects, we suggest that microglia-directed therapies may be considered in psychiatric disorders associated with myelin abnormalities.
Hana Janova, Sahab Arinrad, Evan Balmuth, Marina Mitjans, Johannes Hertel, Mohamad Habes, Robert A. Bittner, Hong Pan, Sandra Goebbels, Martin Begemann, Ulrike C. Gerwig, Sönke Langner, Hauke B. Werner, Sarah Kittel-Schneider, Georg Homuth, Christos Davatzikos, Henry Völzke, Brian L. West, Andreas Reif, Hans Jörgen Grabe, Susann Boretius, Hannelore Ehrenreich, Klaus-Armin Nave
Transplantation of neural progenitor cells (NPCs) is a potential therapy for treating neurodegenerative disorders, but this approach has faced many challenges and limited success, primarily because of inhospitable host brain environments that interfere with enriched neuron engraftment and function. Astrocytes play neurotrophic roles in the developing and adult brain, making them potential candidates for helping with modification of hostile brain environments. In this study, we examined whether astrocytic function could be utilized to overcome the current limitations of cell-based therapies in a murine model of Parkinson’s disease (PD) that is characterized by dopamine (DA) neuron degeneration in the midbrain. We show here that cografting astrocytes, especially those derived from the midbrain, remarkably enhanced NPC-based cell therapeutic outcomes along with robust DA neuron engraftment in PD rats for at least 6 months after transplantation. We further show that engineering of donor astrocytes with Nurr1 and Foxa2, transcription factors that were recently reported to polarize harmful immunogenic glia into the neuroprotective form, further promoted the neurotrophic actions of grafted astrocytes in the cell therapeutic approach. Collectively, these findings suggest that cografting astrocytes could be a potential strategy for successful cell therapeutic outcomes in neurodegenerative disorders.
Jae-Jin Song, Sang-Min Oh, Oh-Chan Kwon, Noviana Wulnansari, Hyun-Seob Lee, Mi-Yoon Chang, Eunsoo Lee, Woong Sun, Sang-Eun Lee, Sunghoe Chang, Heeyoung An, C. Justin Lee, Sang-Hun Lee
Nervous system injury is a frequent result of cancer therapy involving cranial irradiation, leaving patients with marked memory and other neurobehavioral disabilities. Here, we report an unanticipated link between bone marrow and brain in the setting of radiation injury. Specifically, we demonstrate that bone marrow–derived monocytes and macrophages are essential for structural and functional repair mechanisms, including regeneration of cerebral white matter and improvement in neurocognitive function. Using a granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) receptor knockout mouse model in combination with bone marrow cell transplantation, MRI, and neurocognitive functional assessments, we demonstrate that bone marrow–derived G-CSF–responsive cells home to the injured brain and are critical for altering neural progenitor cells and brain repair. Additionally, compared with untreated animals, animals that received G-CSF following radiation injury exhibited enhanced functional brain repair. Together, these results demonstrate that, in addition to its known role in defense and debris removal, the hematopoietic system provides critical regenerative drive to the brain that can be modulated by clinically available agents.
Jorg Dietrich, Ninib Baryawno, Naema Nayyar, Yannis K. Valtis, Betty Yang, Ina Ly, Antoine Besnard, Nicolas Severe, Karin U. Gustafsson, Ovidiu C. Andronesi, Tracy T. Batchelor, Amar Sahay, David T. Scadden
Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A (CMT1A) is caused by duplication of peripheral myelin protein 22 (PMP22) and is the most common hereditary peripheral neuropathy. CMT1A is characterized by demyelination and axonal loss, which underlie slowed motor nerve conduction velocity (MNCV) and reduced compound muscle action potentials (CMAP) in patients. There is currently no known treatment for this disease. Here, we show that antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) effectively suppress PMP22 mRNA in affected nerves in 2 murine CMT1A models. Notably, initiation of ASO treatment after disease onset restored myelination, MNCV, and CMAP almost to levels seen in WT animals. In addition to disease-associated gene expression networks that were restored with ASO treatment, we also identified potential disease biomarkers through transcriptomic profiling. Furthermore, we demonstrated that reduction of PMP22 mRNA in skin biopsies from ASO-treated rats is a suitable biomarker for evaluating target engagement in response to ASO therapy. These results support the use of ASOs as a potential treatment for CMT1A and elucidate potential disease and target engagement biomarkers for use in future clinical trials.
Hien Tran Zhao, Sagar Damle, Karli Ikeda-Lee, Steven Kuntz, Jian Li, Apoorva Mohan, Aneeza Kim, Gene Hung, Mark A. Scheideler, Steven S. Scherer, John Svaren, Eric E. Swayze, Holly B. Kordasiewicz
Astrocytes perform critical non–cell autonomous roles following CNS injury that involve either neurotoxic or neuroprotective effects. Yet the nature of potential prosurvival cues has remained unclear. In the current study, we utilized the close interaction between astrocytes and retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in the eye to characterize a secreted neuroprotective signal present in retinal astrocyte conditioned medium (ACM). Rather than a conventional peptide neurotrophic factor, we identified a prominent lipid component of the neuroprotective signal through metabolomics screening. The lipoxins LXA4 and LXB4 are small lipid mediators that act locally to dampen inflammation, but they have not been linked directly to neuronal actions. Here, we determined that LXA4 and LXB4 are synthesized in the inner retina, but their levels are reduced following injury. Injection of either lipoxin was sufficient for neuroprotection following acute injury, while inhibition of key lipoxin pathway components exacerbated injury-induced damage. Although LXA4 signaling has been extensively investigated, LXB4, the less studied lipoxin, emerged to be more potent in protection. Moreover, LXB4 neuroprotection was different from that of established LXA4 signaling, and therapeutic LXB4 treatment was efficacious in a chronic model of the common neurodegenerative disease glaucoma. Together, these results identify a potential paracrine mechanism that coordinates neuronal homeostasis and inflammation in the CNS.
Izhar Livne-Bar, Jessica Wei, Hsin-Hua Liu, Samih Alqawlaq, Gah-Jone Won, Alessandra Tuccitto, Karsten Gronert, John G. Flanagan, Jeremy M. Sivak
Molybdenum cofactor deficiency (MoCD) is an autosomal recessive inborn error of metabolism characterized by neurodegeneration and death in early childhood. The rapid and progressive neurodegeneration in MoCD presents a major clinical challenge and may relate to the poor understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved. Recently, we reported that treating patients with cyclic pyranopterin monophosphate (cPMP) is a successful therapy for a subset of infants with MoCD and prevents irreversible brain damage. Here, we studied S-sulfocysteine (SSC), a structural analog of glutamate that accumulates in the plasma and urine of patients with MoCD, and demonstrated that it acts as an N-methyl D-aspartate receptor (NMDA-R) agonist, leading to calcium influx and downstream cell signaling events and neurotoxicity. SSC treatment activated the protease calpain, and calpain-dependent degradation of the inhibitory synaptic protein gephyrin subsequently exacerbated SSC-mediated excitotoxicity and promoted loss of GABAergic synapses. Pharmacological blockade of NMDA-R, calcium influx, or calpain activity abolished SSC and glutamate neurotoxicity in primary murine neurons. Finally, the NMDA-R antagonist memantine was protective against the manifestation of symptoms in a tungstate-induced MoCD mouse model. These findings demonstrate that SSC drives excitotoxic neurodegeneration in MoCD and introduce NMDA-R antagonists as potential therapeutics for this fatal disease.
Avadh Kumar, Borislav Dejanovic, Florian Hetsch, Marcus Semtner, Debora Fusca, Sita Arjune, Jose Angel Santamaria-Araujo, Aline Winkelmann, Scott Ayton, Ashley I. Bush, Peter Kloppenburg, Jochen C. Meier, Guenter Schwarz, Abdel Ali Belaidi