In Huntington disease (HD), immune cells are activated before symptoms arise; however, it is unclear how the expression of mutant huntingtin (htt) compromises the normal functions of immune cells. Here we report that primary microglia from early postnatal HD mice were profoundly impaired in their migration to chemotactic stimuli, and expression of a mutant htt fragment in microglial cell lines was sufficient to reproduce these deficits. Microglia expressing mutant htt had a retarded response to a laser-induced brain injury in vivo. Leukocyte recruitment was defective upon induction of peritonitis in HD mice at early disease stages and was normalized upon genetic deletion of mutant htt in immune cells. Migration was also strongly impaired in peripheral immune cells from pre-manifest human HD patients. Defective actin remodeling in immune cells expressing mutant htt likely contributed to their migration deficit. Our results suggest that these functional changes may contribute to immune dysfunction and neurodegeneration in HD, and may have implications for other polyglutamine expansion diseases in which mutant proteins are ubiquitously expressed.
Wanda Kwan, Ulrike Träger, Dimitrios Davalos, Austin Chou, Jill Bouchard, Ralph Andre, Aaron Miller, Andreas Weiss, Flaviano Giorgini, Christine Cheah, Thomas Möller, Nephi Stella, Katerina Akassoglou, Sarah J. Tabrizi, Paul J. Muchowski
Angelman syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by maternal deletions or mutations of the ubiquitin ligase E3A (UBE3A) allele and characterized by minimal verbal communication, seizures, and disorders of voluntary movement. Previous studies have suggested that abnormal dopamine neurotransmission may underlie some of these deficits, but no effective treatment currently exists for the core features of AS. A clinical trial of levodopa (l-DOPA) in AS is ongoing, although the underlying rationale for this treatment strategy has not yet been thoroughly examined in preclinical models. We found that AS model mice lacking maternal Ube3a (Ube3am–/p+ mice) exhibit behavioral deficits that correlated with abnormal dopamine signaling. These deficits were not due to loss of dopaminergic neurons or impaired dopamine synthesis. Unexpectedly, Ube3am–/p+ mice exhibited increased dopamine release in the mesolimbic pathway while also exhibiting a decrease in dopamine release in the nigrostriatal pathway, as measured with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. These findings demonstrate the complex effects of UBE3A loss on dopamine signaling in subcortical motor pathways that may inform ongoing clinical trials of l-DOPA therapy in patients with AS.
Thorfinn T. Riday, Elyse C. Dankoski, Michael C. Krouse, Eric W. Fish, Paul L. Walsh, Ji Eun Han, Clyde W. Hodge, R. Mark Wightman, Benjamin D. Philpot, C.J. Malanga
8-Oxoguanine (8-oxoG), a common DNA lesion caused by reactive oxygen species, is associated with carcinogenesis and neurodegeneration. Although the mechanism by which 8-oxoG causes carcinogenesis is well understood, the mechanism by which it causes neurodegeneration is unknown. Here, we report that neurodegeneration is triggered by MUTYH-mediated excision repair of 8-oxoG–paired adenine. Mutant mice lacking 8-oxo–2′-deoxyguanosine triphosphatase–depleting (8-oxo–dGTP–depleting) MTH1 and/or 8-oxoG–excising OGG1 exhibited severe striatal neurodegeneration, whereas mutant mice lacking MUTYH or OGG1/MUTYH were resistant to neurodegeneration under conditions of oxidative stress. These results indicate that OGG1 and MTH1 are protective, while MUTYH promotes neurodegeneration. We observed that 8-oxoG accumulated in the mitochondrial DNA of neurons and caused calpain-dependent neuronal loss, while delayed nuclear accumulation of 8-oxoG in microglia resulted in PARP-dependent activation of apoptosis-inducing factor and exacerbated microgliosis. These results revealed that neurodegeneration is a complex process caused by 8-oxoG accumulation in the genomes of neurons and microglia. Different signaling pathways were triggered by the accumulation of single-strand breaks in each type of DNA generated during base excision repair initiated by MUTYH, suggesting that suppression of MUTYH may protect the brain under conditions of oxidative stress.
Zijing Sheng, Sugako Oka, Daisuke Tsuchimoto, Nona Abolhassani, Hiroko Nomaru, Kunihiko Sakumi, Hidetaka Yamada, Yusaku Nakabeppu
Progranulin (PGRN) is a widely expressed secreted protein that is linked to inflammation. In humans, PGRN haploinsufficiency is a major inherited cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), but how PGRN deficiency causes neurodegeneration is unknown. Here we show that loss of PGRN results in increased neuron loss in response to injury in the CNS. When exposed acutely to 1-methyl-4-(2′-methylphenyl)-1,2,3,6-tetrahydrophine (MPTP), mice lacking PGRN (Grn–/–) showed more neuron loss and increased microgliosis compared with wild-type mice. The exacerbated neuron loss was due not to selective vulnerability of Grn–/– neurons to MPTP, but rather to an increased microglial inflammatory response. Consistent with this, conditional mutants lacking PGRN in microglia exhibited MPTP-induced phenotypes similar to Grn–/– mice. Selective depletion of PGRN from microglia in mixed cortical cultures resulted in increased death of wild-type neurons in the absence of injury. Furthermore, Grn–/– microglia treated with LPS/IFN-γ exhibited an amplified inflammatory response, and conditioned media from these microglia promoted death of cultured neurons. Our results indicate that PGRN deficiency leads to dysregulated microglial activation and thereby contributes to increased neuron loss with injury. These findings suggest that PGRN deficiency may cause increased neuron loss in other forms of CNS injury accompanied by neuroinflammation.
Lauren Herl Martens, Jiasheng Zhang, Sami J. Barmada, Ping Zhou, Sherry Kamiya, Binggui Sun, Sang-Won Min, Li Gan, Steven Finkbeiner, Eric J. Huang, Robert V. Farese Jr.
Mutations in the AFG3L2 gene have been linked to spinocerebellar ataxia type 28 and spastic ataxia-neuropathy syndrome in humans; however, the pathogenic mechanism is still unclear. AFG3L2 encodes a subunit of the mitochondrial m-AAA protease, previously implicated in quality control of misfolded inner mitochondrial membrane proteins and in regulatory functions via processing of specific substrates. Here, we used a conditional Afg3l2 mouse model that allows restricted deletion of the gene in Purkinje cells (PCs) to shed light on the pathogenic cascade in the neurons mainly affected in the human diseases. We demonstrate a cell-autonomous requirement of AFG3L2 for survival of PCs. Examination of PCs prior to neurodegeneration revealed fragmentation and altered distribution of mitochondria in the dendritic tree, indicating that abnormal mitochondrial dynamics is an early event in the pathogenic process. Moreover, PCs displayed features pointing to defects in mitochondrially encoded respiratory chain subunits at early stages. To unravel the underlying mechanism, we examined a constitutive knockout of Afg3l2, which revealed a decreased rate of mitochondrial protein synthesis associated with impaired mitochondrial ribosome assembly. We therefore propose that defective mitochondrial protein synthesis, leading to early-onset fragmentation of the mitochondrial network, is a central causative factor in AFG3L2-related neurodegeneration.
Eva R. Almajan, Ricarda Richter, Lars Paeger, Paola Martinelli, Esther Barth, Thorsten Decker, Nils-Göran Larsson, Peter Kloppenburg, Thomas Langer, Elena I. Rugarli
Huntington’s disease (HD) is a fatal, inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the gene encoding huntingtin (HTT). Therapeutic approaches to lower mutant HTT (mHTT) levels are expected to proceed to human trials, but noninvasive quantification of mHTT is not currently possible. The importance of the peripheral immune system in neurodegenerative disease is becoming increasingly recognized. Peripheral immune cells have been implicated in HD pathogenesis, but HTT levels in these cells have not been quantified before. A recently described time-resolved Förster resonance energy transfer (TR-FRET) immunoassay was used to quantify mutant and total HTT protein levels in leukocytes from patients with HD. Mean mHTT levels in monocytes, T cells, and B cells differed significantly between patients with HD and controls and between pre-manifest mutation carriers and those with clinical onset. Monocyte and T cell mHTT levels were significantly associated with disease burden scores and caudate atrophy rates in patients with HD. mHTT N-terminal fragments detected in HD PBMCs may explain the progressive increase in mHTT levels in these cells. These findings indicate that quantification of mHTT in peripheral immune cells by TR-FRET holds significant promise as a noninvasive disease biomarker.
Andreas Weiss, Ulrike Träger, Edward J. Wild, Stephan Grueninger, Ruth Farmer, Christian Landles, Rachael I. Scahill, Nayana Lahiri, Salman Haider, Douglas Macdonald, Chris Frost, Gillian P. Bates, Graeme Bilbe, Rainer Kuhn, Ralph Andre, Sarah J. Tabrizi
The formation of a long-lasting memory requires a transcription-dependent consolidation period that converts a short-term memory into a long-term memory. Nuclear receptors compose a class of transcription factors that regulate diverse biological processes, and several nuclear receptors have been implicated in memory formation. Here, we examined the potential contribution of nuclear receptors to memory consolidation by measuring the expression of all 49 murine nuclear receptors after learning. We identified 13 nuclear receptors with increased expression after learning, including all 3 members of the Nr4a subfamily. These CREB-regulated Nr4a genes encode ligand-independent “orphan” nuclear receptors. We found that blocking NR4A activity in memory-supporting brain regions impaired long-term memory but did not impact short-term memory in mice. Further, expression of Nr4a genes increased following the memory-enhancing effects of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors. Blocking NR4A signaling interfered with the ability of HDAC inhibitors to enhance memory. These results demonstrate that the Nr4a gene family contributes to memory formation and is a promising target for improving cognitive function.
Joshua D. Hawk, Angie L. Bookout, Shane G. Poplawski, Morgan Bridi, Allison J. Rao, Michael E. Sulewski, Brian T. Kroener, David J. Manglesdorf, Ted Abel
Progress in neurodegenerative disease research is hampered by the lack of biomarkers of neuronal dysfunction. We here identified a class of cerebrospinal fluid–based (CSF-based) kinetic biomarkers that reflect altered neuronal transport of protein cargo, a common feature of neurodegeneration. After a pulse administration of heavy water (2H2O), distinct, newly synthesized 2H-labeled neuronal proteins were transported to nerve terminals and secreted, and then appeared in CSF. In 3 mouse models of neurodegeneration, distinct 2H-cargo proteins displayed delayed appearance and disappearance kinetics in the CSF, suggestive of aberrant transport kinetics. Microtubule-modulating pharmacotherapy normalized CSF-based kinetics of affected 2H-cargo proteins and ameliorated neurodegenerative symptoms in mice. After 2H2O labeling, similar neuronal transport deficits were observed in CSF of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) compared with non-PD control subjects, which indicates that these biomarkers are translatable and relevant to human disease. Measurement of transport kinetics may provide a sensitive method to monitor progression of neurodegeneration and treatment effects.
Patrizia Fanara, Po-Yin A. Wong, Kristofor H. Husted, Shanshan Liu, Victoria M. Liu, Lori A. Kohlstaedt, Timothy Riiff, Joan C. Protasio, Drina Boban, Salena Killion, Maudi Killian, Lorrie Epling, Elisabeth Sinclair, Julia Peterson, Richard W. Price, Deborah E. Cabin, Robert L. Nussbaum, Jörg Brühmann, Roland Brandt, Chadwick W. Christine, Michael J. Aminoff, Marc K. Hellerstein
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive disease associated with neuronal cell death that is thought to involve aberrant immune responses. Here we investigated the role of innate immunity in a mouse model of ALS. We found that inflammatory monocytes were activated and that their progressive recruitment to the spinal cord, but not brain, correlated with neuronal loss. We also found a decrease in resident microglia in the spinal cord with disease progression. Prior to disease onset, splenic Ly6Chi monocytes expressed a polarized macrophage phenotype (M1 signature), which included increased levels of chemokine receptor CCR2. As disease onset neared, microglia expressed increased CCL2 and other chemotaxis-associated molecules, which led to the recruitment of monocytes to the CNS by spinal cord–derived microglia. Treatment with anti-Ly6C mAb modulated the Ly6Chi monocyte cytokine profile, reduced monocyte recruitment to the spinal cord, diminished neuronal loss, and extended survival. In humans with ALS, the analogous monocytes (CD14+CD16–) exhibited an ALS-specific microRNA inflammatory signature similar to that observed in the ALS mouse model, linking the animal model and the human disease. Thus, the profile of monocytes in ALS patients may serve as a biomarker for disease stage or progression. Our results suggest that recruitment of inflammatory monocytes plays an important role in disease progression and that modulation of these cells is a potential therapeutic approach.
Oleg Butovsky, Shafiuddin Siddiqui, Galina Gabriely, Amanda J. Lanser, Ben Dake, Gopal Murugaiyan, Camille E. Doykan, Pauline M. Wu, Reddy R. Gali, Lakshmanan K. Iyer, Robert Lawson, James Berry, Anna M. Krichevsky, Merit E. Cudkowicz, Howard L. Weiner
The second-largest cause of X-linked mental retardation is a deficiency in creatine transporter (CRT; encoded by SLC6A8), which leads to speech and language disorders with severe cognitive impairment. This syndrome, caused by the absence of creatine in the brain, is currently untreatable because CRT is required for creatine entry into brain cells. Here, we developed a brain-specific Slc6a8 knockout mouse (Slc6a8–/y) as an animal model of human CRT deficiency in order to explore potential therapies for this syndrome. The phenotype of the Slc6a8–/y mouse was comparable to that of human patients. We successfully treated the Slc6a8–/y mice with the creatine analog cyclocreatine. Brain cyclocreatine and cyclocreatine phosphate were detected after 9 weeks of cyclocreatine treatment in Slc6a8–/y mice, in contrast to the same mice treated with creatine or placebo. Cyclocreatine-treated Slc6a8–/y mice also exhibited a profound improvement in cognitive abilities, as seen with novel object recognition as well as spatial learning and memory tests. Thus, cyclocreatine appears promising as a potential therapy for CRT deficiency.
Yuko Kurosawa, Ton J. DeGrauw, Diana M. Lindquist, Victor M. Blanco, Gail J. Pyne-Geithman, Takiko Daikoku, James B. Chambers, Stephen C. Benoit, Joseph F. Clark