Familial dysautonomia (FD) is the most prevalent form of hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy (HSAN). In FD, a germline mutation in the Elp1 gene leads to Elp1 protein decrease that causes sympathetic neuron death and sympathetic nervous system dysfunction (dysautonomia). Elp1 is best known as a scaffolding protein within the nuclear hetero-hexameric transcriptional Elongator protein complex, but how it functions in sympathetic neuron survival is very poorly understood. Here, we identified a cytoplasmic function for Elp1 in sympathetic neurons that was essential for retrograde nerve growth factor (NGF) signaling and neuron target tissue innervation and survival. Elp1 was found to bind to internalized TrkA receptors in an NGF-dependent manner, where it was essential for maintaining TrkA receptor phosphorylation (activation) by regulating PTPN6 (Shp1) phosphatase activity within the signaling complex. In the absence of Elp1, Shp1 was hyperactivated, leading to premature TrkA receptor dephosphorylation, which resulted in retrograde signaling failure and neuron death. Inhibiting Shp1 phosphatase activity in the absence of Elp1 rescued NGF-dependent retrograde signaling, and in an animal model of FD it rescued abnormal sympathetic target tissue innervation. These results suggest that regulation of retrograde NGF signaling in sympathetic neurons by Elp1 may explain sympathetic neuron loss and physiologic dysautonomia in patients with FD.
Lin Li, Katherine Gruner, Warren G. Tourtellotte
Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is caused by loss of repression of the DUX4 gene; however, the DUX4 protein is rare and difficult to detect in human muscle biopsies, and pathological mechanisms are obscure. FSHD is also a chronic disease that progresses slowly over decades. We used the sporadic, low-level, muscle-specific expression of DUX4 enabled by the iDUX4pA-HSA mouse to develop a chronic long-term muscle disease model. After 6 months of extremely low sporadic DUX4 expression, dystrophic muscle presented hallmarks of FSHD histopathology, including muscle degeneration, capillary loss, fibrosis, and atrophy. We investigated the transcriptional profile of whole muscle as well as endothelial cells and fibroadiopogenic progenitors (FAPs). Strikingly, differential gene expression profiles of both whole muscle and, to a lesser extent, FAPs, showed significant overlap with transcriptional profiles of MRI-guided human FSHD muscle biopsies. These results demonstrate a pathophysiological similarity between disease in muscles of iDUX4pA-HSA mice and humans with FSHD, solidifying the value of chronic rare DUX4 expression in mice for modeling pathological mechanisms in FSHD and highlighting the importance FAPs in this disease.
Darko Bosnakovski, Ahmed S. Shams, Ce Yuan, Meiricris T. da Silva, Elizabeth T. Ener, Cory W. Baumann, Angus J. Lindsay, Mayank Verma, Atsushi Asakura, Dawn A. Lowe, Michael Kyba
AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a key regulator at the molecular level to maintain energy metabolism homeostasis. Mammalian AMPK is a heterotrimeric complex and its catalytic α subunit exists in two isoforms: AMPKα1 and AMPKα2. Recent studies suggest a role of AMPKα over-activation in AD-associated synaptic failure. However, whether AD-associated dementia can be improved by targeting AMPK remains unclear, and roles of AMPKα isoforms in AD pathophysiology are not understood. Here we showed distinct disruption of hippocampal AMPKα isoform expression patterns in post mortem human AD patients and AD model mice. We further investigated the effects of brain- and isoform-specific AMPKα repression on AD pathophysiology. We found that repression of AMPKα1 alleviated cognitive deficits and synaptic failure displayed in two separate lines of AD model mice. In contrast, AMPKα2 suppression did not alter AD pathophysiology. Using unbiased mass spectrometry-based proteomics analysis, we identified distinct patterns of protein expression associated with specific AMPKα isoform suppression in AD model mice. Further, AD-associated hyper-phosphorylation of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) was blunted with selective AMPKα1 inhibition. Our findings reveal isoform-specific roles of AMPKα in AD pathophysiology, thus providing insights into potential therapeutic strategy for AD and related dementia syndromes.
Helena R. Zimmermann, Wenzhong Yang, Nicole P. Kasica, Xueyan Zhou, Xin Wang, Brenna C. Beckelman, Jingyun Lee, Cristina M. Furdui, C. Dirk Keene, Tao Ma
Lipid-rich myelin forms electrically insulating, axon-wrapping multilayers that are essential for neural function, and mature myelin is traditionally considered metabolically inert. Surprisingly, we discovered that mature myelin lipids undergo rapid turnover, and quaking (Qki) is a major regulator of myelin lipid homeostasis. Oligodendrocyte-specific Qki depletion, without affecting oligodendrocyte survival, resulted in rapid demyelination, within 1 week, and gradually neurological deficits in adult mice. Myelin lipids, especially the monounsaturated fatty acids and very-long-chain fatty acids, were dramatically reduced by Qki depletion, whereas the major myelin proteins remained intact, and the demyelinating phenotypes of Qki-depleted mice were alleviated by a high-fat diet. Mechanistically, Qki serves as a coactivator of the PPARβ-RXRα complex, which controls the transcription of lipid-metabolism genes, particularly those involved in fatty acid desaturation and elongation. Treatment of Qki-depleted mice with PPARβ/RXR agonists significantly alleviated neurological disability and extended survival durations. Furthermore, a subset of lesions from patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis were characterized by preferential reductions in myelin lipid contents, activities of various lipid metabolism pathways, and expression level of QKI-5 in human oligodendrocytes. Together, our results demonstrate that continuous lipid synthesis is indispensable for mature myelin maintenance and highlight an underappreciated role of lipid metabolism in demyelinating diseases.
Xin Zhou, Chenxi He, Jiangong Ren, Congxin Dai, Sharon R. Stevens, Qianghu Wang, Daniel Zamler, Takashi Shingu, Liang Yuan, Chythra R. Chandregowda, Yunfei Wang, Visweswaran Ravikumar, Arvind U.K. Rao, Feng Zhou, Hongwu Zheng, Matthew N. Rasband, Yiwen Chen, Fei Lan, Amy B. Heimberger, Benjamin M. Segal, Jian Hu
Chronic inflammation is a pathologic feature of neurodegeneration and aging; however, the mechanism regulating this process is not understood. Melatonin, an endogenous free radical scavenger synthesized by neuronal mitochondria, decreases with aging and neurodegeneration. We proposed that insufficient melatonin levels impair mitochondrial homeostasis resulting in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) release, activation of cytosolic DNA mediated inflammatory response in neurons. We found increased mitochondrial oxidative stress and decreased mitochondrial membrane potential with higher mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) release in brain and primary cerebro-cortical neurons of melatonin deficient aralkylamine N-acetyltransferase (AANAT) knockout mice. Cytosolic mtDNA activated the cGAS/STING/IRF3 pathway, stimulating inflammatory cytokine generation. We found that Huntington's disease mice increased mtDNA release, cGAS activation, and inflammation, all inhibited by exogenous melatonin. Thus, we demonstrated that cytosolic mtDNA activated the inflammatory response in aging and neurodegeneration, a process modulated by melatonin. Furthermore, our data suggest that AANAT knockout mice are a model of accelerated aging.
Abhishek Jauhari, Sergei V. Baranov, Yalikun Suofu, Jinho Kim, Tanisha Singh, Svitlana Yablonska, Fang Li, Xiaomin Wang, Patrick Oberly, M. Beth Minnigh, Samuel M. Poloyac, Diane L. Carlisle, Robert M. Friedlander
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory demyelinating disorder of the CNS. Bile acids are cholesterol metabolites that can signal through receptors on cells throughout the body, including the CNS and immune system. Whether bile acid metabolism is abnormal in MS is unknown. Using global and targeted metabolomic profiling, we identified lower levels of circulating bile acid metabolites in multiple cohorts of adult and pediatric MS patients compared to controls. In white matter lesions from MS brain tissue, we noted the presence of bile acid receptors on immune and glial cells. To mechanistically examine the implications of lower levels of bile acids in MS, we studied the in vitro effects of an endogenous bile acid – tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) on astrocyte and microglial polarization. TUDCA prevented neurotoxic (A1) polarization of astrocytes and pro-inflammatory polarization of microglia in a dose-dependent manner. TUDCA supplementation in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis reduced severity of disease through its effects on GPBAR1, based on behavioral and pathological measures. We demonstrate that bile acid metabolism is altered in MS; bile acid supplementation prevents polarization of astrocytes and microglia to neurotoxic phenotypes and ameliorates neuropathology in an animal model of MS. These findings identify dysregulated bile acid metabolism as a potential therapeutic target in MS.
Pavan Bhargava, Matthew D. Smith, Leah Mische, Emily P. Harrington, Kathryn C. Fitzgerald, Kyle A. Martin, Sol Kim, Arthur Anthony A. Reyes, Jaime Gonzalez-Cardona, Christina Volsko, Ajai Tripathi, Sonal Singh, Kesava Varanasi, Hannah-Noelle Lord, Keya R. Meyers, Michelle Taylor, Marjan Gharagozloo, Elias S. Sotirchos, Bardia Nourbakhsh, Ranjan Dutta, Ellen Mowry, Emmanuelle Waubant, Peter A. Calabresi
Inherited retinal degenerations (IRDs) are characterized by the progressive loss of photoreceptors and represent one of the most prevalent causes of blindness among working-age populations. Cyclic nucleotide dysregulation is a common pathological feature linked to numerous forms of IRD, yet the precise mechanisms through which this contributes to photoreceptor death remain elusive. Here we demonstrate that cAMP induced upregulation of the dependence receptor neogenin in the retina. Neogenin levels were also elevated in both human and murine degenerating photoreceptors. We found that overexpressing neogenin in mouse photoreceptors was sufficient to induce cell death, whereas silencing neogenin in degenerating murine photoreceptors promoted survival, thus identifying a pro-death signal in IRDs. A possible treatment strategy is modeled whereby peptide neutralization of neogenin in Rd1, Rd10, and Rho P23H–knockin mice promotes rod and cone survival and rescues visual function as measured by light-evoked retinal ganglion cell recordings, scotopic/photopic electroretinogram recordings, and visual acuity tests. These results expose neogenin as a critical link between cAMP and photoreceptor death, and identify a druggable target for the treatment of retinal degeneration.
Jason Charish, Alireza P. Shabanzadeh, Danian Chen, Patrick Mehlen, Santhosh Sethuramanujam, Hidekiyo Harada, Vera L. Bonilha, Gautam Awatramani, Rod Bremner, Philippe P. Monnier
Platinum-based chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common causes of dose reduction and discontinuation of life-saving chemotherapy in cancer treatment; it often causes permanent impairment of quality of life in cancer patients. The mechanisms that underlie this neuropathy are not defined, and effective treatment and prevention measures are not available. Here, we demonstrate that SIRT2 protected mice against cisplatin-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN). SIRT2 accumulated in the nuclei of dorsal root ganglion sensory neurons and prevented neuronal cell death following cisplatin treatment. Mechanistically, SIRT2, an NAD+-dependent deacetylase, protected neurons from cisplatin cytotoxicity by promoting transcription-coupled nucleotide excision repair (TC-NER) of cisplatin-induced DNA crosslinks. Consistent with this mechanism, pharmacological inhibition of NER using spironolactone abolished SIRT2-mediated TC-NER activity in differentiated neuronal cells and protection of neurons from cisplatin-induced cytotoxicity and CIPN in mice. Importantly, SIRT2’s protective effects were not evident in lung cancer cells in vitro or in tumors in vivo. Taken together, our results identified SIRT2’s function in the NER pathway as a key underlying mechanism of preventing CIPN, warranting future investigation of SIRT2 activation-mediated neuroprotection during platinum-based cancer treatment.
Manchao Zhang, Wuying Du, Scarlett M. Acklin, Shengkai Jin, Fen Xia
Notch signaling is a highly conserved intercellular pathway with tightly regulated and pleiotropic roles in normal tissue development and homeostasis. Dysregulated Notch signaling has also been implicated in human disease, including multiple forms of cancer, and represents an emerging therapeutic target. Successful development of such therapeutics requires a detailed understanding of potential on-target toxicities. Here, we identify autosomal dominant mutations of the canonical Notch ligand Jagged1 (or JAG1) as a cause of peripheral nerve disease in 2 unrelated families with the hereditary axonal neuropathy Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2 (CMT2). Affected individuals in both families exhibited severe vocal fold paresis, a rare feature of peripheral nerve disease that can be life-threatening. Our studies of mutant protein posttranslational modification and localization indicated that the mutations (p.Ser577Arg, p.Ser650Pro) impair protein glycosylation and reduce JAG1 cell surface expression. Mice harboring heterozygous CMT2-associated mutations exhibited mild peripheral neuropathy, and homozygous expression resulted in embryonic lethality by midgestation. Together, our findings highlight a critical role for JAG1 in maintaining peripheral nerve integrity, particularly in the recurrent laryngeal nerve, and provide a basis for the evaluation of peripheral neuropathy as part of the clinical development of Notch pathway–modulating therapeutics.
Jeremy M. Sullivan, William W. Motley, Janel O. Johnson, William H. Aisenberg, Katherine L. Marshall, Katy E.S. Barwick, Lingling Kong, Jennifer S. Huh, Pamela C. Saavedra-Rivera, Meriel M. McEntagart, Marie-Helene Marion, Lucy A. Hicklin, Hamid Modarres, Emma L. Baple, Mohamed H. Farah, Aamir R. Zuberi, Cathleen M. Lutz, Rachelle Gaudet, Bryan J. Traynor, Andrew H. Crosby, Charlotte J. Sumner
Paucity of the survival motor neuron (SMN) protein triggers the oft-fatal infantile-onset motor neuron disorder, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Augmenting the protein is one means of treating SMA and recently led to FDA approval of an intrathecally delivered SMN-enhancing oligonucleotide currently in use. Notwithstanding the advent of this and other therapies for SMA, it is unclear whether the paralysis associated with the disease derives solely from dysfunctional motor neurons that may be efficiently targeted by restricted delivery of SMN-enhancing agents to the nervous system, or stems from broader defects of the motor unit, arguing for systemic SMN repletion. We investigated the disease-contributing effects of low SMN in one relevant peripheral organ — skeletal muscle — by selectively depleting the protein in only this tissue. We found that muscle deprived of SMN was profoundly damaged. Although a disease phenotype was not immediately obvious, persistent low levels of the protein eventually resulted in muscle fiber defects, neuromuscular junction abnormalities, compromised motor performance, and premature death. Importantly, restoring SMN after the onset of muscle pathology reversed disease. Our results provide the most compelling evidence yet for a direct contributing role of muscle in SMA and argue that an optimal therapy for the disease must be designed to treat this aspect of the dysfunctional motor unit.
Jeong-Ki Kim, Narendra N. Jha, Zhihua Feng, Michelle R. Faleiro, Claudia A. Chiriboga, Lan Wei-Lapierre, Robert T. Dirksen, Chien-Ping Ko, Umrao R. Monani