NeuroBioBank Publications

All published scientific findings derived from tissues and/or data obtained through the NeuroBioBank must acknowledge the NIH NeuroBioBank as the source.


Reduced Expression of Foxp1 as a Contributing Factor in Huntington's Disease
July 2017

Abstract:

Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disease caused by a polyglutamine expansion in the huntington protein (htt). The neuropathological hallmark of HD is the loss of neurons in the striatum and, to a lesser extent, in the cortex. Foxp1 is a member of the Forkhead family of transcription factors expressed selectively in the striatum and the cortex. In the brain, three major Foxp1 isoforms are expressed: isoform-A (∼90 kDa), isoform-D (∼70 kDa), and isoform-C (∼50 kDa). We find that expression of Foxp1 isoform-A and -D is selectively reduced in the striatum and cortex of R6/2 HD mice as well as in the striatum of HD patients. Furthermore, expression of mutant htt in neurons results in the downregulation of Foxp1 Elevating expression of isoform-A or -D protects cortical neurons from death caused by the expression of mutant htt On the other hand, knockdown of Foxp1 promotes death in otherwise healthy neurons. Neuroprotection by Foxp1 is likely to be mediated by the transcriptional stimulation of the cell-cycle inhibitory protein p21Waf1/Cip1 Consistently, Foxp1 activates transcription of the p21Waf1/Cip1 gene promoter, and overexpression of Foxp1 in neurons results in the elevation of p21 expression. Moreover, knocking down of p21Waf1/Cip1 blocks the ability of Foxp1 to protect neurons from mut-Htt-induced neurotoxicity. We propose that the selective vulnerability of neurons of the striatum and cortex in HD is related to the loss of expression of Foxp1, a protein that is highly expressed in these neurons and required for their survival.

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A microRNA-129-5p/Rbfox crosstalk coordinates homeostatic downscaling of excitatory synapses
June 2017

Abstract:

Synaptic downscaling is a homeostatic mechanism that allows neurons to reduce firing rates during chronically elevated network activity. Although synaptic downscaling is important in neural circuit development and epilepsy, the underlying mechanisms are poorly described. We performed small RNA profiling in picrotoxin (PTX)-treated hippocampal neurons, a model of synaptic downscaling. Thereby, we identified eight microRNAs (miRNAs) that were increased in response to PTX, including miR-129-5p, whose inhibition blocked synaptic downscaling in vitro and reduced epileptic seizure severity in vivo Using transcriptome, proteome, and bioinformatic analysis, we identified the calcium pump Atp2b4 and doublecortin (Dcx) as miR-129-5p targets. Restoring Atp2b4 and Dcx expression was sufficient to prevent synaptic downscaling in PTX-treated neurons. Furthermore, we characterized a functional crosstalk between miR-129-5p and the RNA-binding protein (RBP) Rbfox1. In the absence of PTX, Rbfox1 promoted the expression of Atp2b4 and Dcx. Upon PTX treatment, Rbfox1 expression was downregulated by miR-129-5p, thereby allowing the repression of Atp2b4 and Dcx. We therefore identified a novel activity-dependent miRNA/RBP crosstalk during synaptic scaling, with potential implications for neural network homeostasis and epileptogenesis.

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Serotonergic Projections Govern Postnatal Neuroblast Migration
May 2017

Abstract:

In many vertebrates, postnatally generated neurons often migrate long distances to reach their final destination, where they help shape local circuit activity. Concerted action of extrinsic stimuli is required to regulate long-distance migration. Some migratory principles are evolutionarily conserved, whereas others are species and cell type specific. Here we identified a serotonergic mechanism that governs migration of postnatally generated neurons in the mouse brain. Serotonergic axons originating from the raphe nuclei exhibit a conspicuous alignment with subventricular zone-derived neuroblasts. Optogenetic axonal activation provides functional evidence for serotonergic modulation of neuroblast migration. Furthermore, we show that the underlying mechanism involves serotonin receptor 3A (5HT3A)-mediated calcium influx. Thus, 5HT3A receptor deletion in neuroblasts impaired speed and directionality of migration and abolished calcium spikes. We speculate that serotonergic modulation of postnatally generated neuroblast migration is evolutionarily conserved as indicated by the presence of serotonergic axons in migratory paths in other vertebrates.

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Ayurvedic Profiling of Alzheimer's Disease
May 2017

Abstract:

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an age-associated, progressive neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by severe memory loss, personality changes, and an overall decline in cognitive function. The cause of AD is not yet completely defined and efforts to find a cure for it have so far been disappointing. AD is one of the most significant health care problems nationally and globally. Recently, we described a personalized therapeutic approach called metabolic enhancement for neurodegeneration (MEND) that successfully reversed the cognitive decline in patients with early AD. The magnitude of the improvement was exceptional, providing testimony to the fact that a personalized and programmatic approach to cognitive decline is highly effective. Ayurveda is a personalized system of traditional medicine native to India and the Indian subcontinent. Although a direct reference to AD in the ancient Ayurvedic literature is missing, concepts including forgetfulness, memory loss, and brain cell loss have been described. Using the clinical information and the metabolic profiling of AD individuals we recently reported using the MEND program, we now describe in this commentary, 3 subtypes of AD based on the Ayurvedic interpretation. Ayurvedic profiling of patients with AD reveals 3 readily distinguishable subtypes, namely Vata, Pitta, and Krimi, which will prove useful in patients with cognitive decline and those at risk for such decline from the standpoint of specific subtype-based Ayurvedic intervention.

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Serotonergic Projections Govern Postnatal Neuroblast Migration
May 2017

Abstract:

In many vertebrates, postnatally generated neurons often migrate long distances to reach their final destination, where they help shape local circuit activity. Concerted action of extrinsic stimuli is required to regulate long-distance migration. Some migratory principles are evolutionarily conserved, whereas others are species and cell type specific. Here we identified a serotonergic mechanism that governs migration of postnatally generated neurons in the mouse brain. Serotonergic axons originating from the raphe nuclei exhibit a conspicuous alignment with subventricular zone-derived neuroblasts. Optogenetic axonal activation provides functional evidence for serotonergic modulation of neuroblast migration. Furthermore, we show that the underlying mechanism involves serotonin receptor 3A (5HT3A)-mediated calcium influx. Thus, 5HT3A receptor deletion in neuroblasts impaired speed and directionality of migration and abolished calcium spikes. We speculate that serotonergic modulation of postnatally generated neuroblast migration is evolutionarily conserved as indicated by the presence of serotonergic axons in migratory paths in other vertebrates.

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Pathology of callosal damage in ALS: An ex-vivo, 7 T diffusion tensor MRI study
Apr. 2017

Abstract:

The goal of this study was to better understand the changes in tissue microstructure that underlie white matter diffusion changes in ALS patients. Diffusion tensor imaging was carried out in postmortem brains of 4 ALS patients and two subjects without neurological disease on a 7 T MRI scanner using steady-state free precession sequences. Fractional anisotropy (FA) was measured in the genu, body, and splenium of the corpus callosum in formalin-fixed hemispheres. FA of the body and genu was expressed as ratio to FA of the splenium, a region unaffected in ALS. After imaging, tissue sections of the same segments of the callosum were stained for markers of different tissue components. Coded image fields were rated for pathological changes by blinded raters.

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Rapid Testing for Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in Donors of Cornea
Apr. 2017

Abstract:

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) has been accidentally transmitted by contaminated corneal transplants. Eye donors are not ordinarily tested for CJD, in part because an easy test is not available. We propose a relatively simple postmortem procedure to collect brain samples without performing full autopsy and show that a test currently marketed for veterinary diagnosis would offer an effective screening test.

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Expression of HDAC2 but Not HDAC1 Transcript Is Reduced in Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex of Patients with Schizophrenia
Mar. 2017

Abstract:

Postmortem brain studies support dysregulated expression of the histone deacetylase enzymes, HDAC1 and HDAC2, as a central feature in diseases including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Our objective was to investigate HDAC expression in a large postmortem sample set representing healthy and disease brains. We used >700 well-characterized samples from patients diagnosed with schizophrenia (n = 175), major depressive disorder (n = 135), and bipolar disorder (n = 61) to measure HDAC1 and HDAC2 transcript levels by quantitative real-time PCR in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and caudate compared to control samples. HDAC expression was calculated relative to the geometric mean of β-2-microglobulin, β-glucuronidase, and β-actin. In adult-age DLPFC, HDAC2 was decreased by 34% in schizophrenia samples compared to controls (p < 10-4). HDAC2 was significantly upregulated in major depressive disorder samples by 17% versus controls (p = 0.002). Neither smoking history nor therapeutic drugs impacted HDAC2 levels and no HDAC1 patient-control differences were observed. In caudate, HDAC levels were unchanged between patient and control groups. In control DLPFC, age fetal week 14 to 97 years (n = 326), both HDAC1 and HDAC2 levels sharply declined around birth and stabilized thereafter. Using by far the largest postmortem sample set on this topic, our major finding (decreased HDAC2 transcript) showed notable specificity in disease (schizophrenia but not major depressive disorder), HDAC subtype (HDAC2 but not HDAC1) and brain region (DLPFC but not caudate). These differences shape understanding of regional components of neural circuitry in the diseased brain and set a benchmark to quantify HDAC density and distribution using in vivo neuroimaging tools.

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Polyubiquitinylation Profile in Down Syndrome Brain Before and After the Development of Alzheimer Neuropathology
Mar. 2017

Abstract:

Among the putative mechanisms proposed to be common factors in Down syndrome (DS) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathology, deficits in protein quality control (PQC) have emerged as a unifying mechanism of neurodegeneration. Considering that disturbance of protein degradation systems is present in DS and that oxidized/misfolded proteins require polyubiquitinylation for degradation via the ubiquitin proteasome system, this study investigated if dysregulation of protein polyubiquitinylation is associated with AD neurodegeneration in DS.

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Potent Anti-seizure Effects of Locked Nucleic Acid Antagomirs Targeting miR-134 in Multiple Mouse and Rat Models of Epilepsy
Mar. 2017

Abstract:

Current anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) act on a limited set of neuronal targets, are ineffective in a third of patients with epilepsy, and do not show disease-modifying properties. MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that regulate levels of proteins by post-transcriptional control of mRNA stability and translation. MicroRNA-134 is involved in controlling neuronal microstructure and brain excitability and previous studies showed that intracerebroventricular injections of locked nucleic acid (LNA), cholesterol-tagged antagomirs targeting microRNA-134 (Ant-134) reduced evoked and spontaneous seizures in mouse models of status epilepticus. Translation of these findings would benefit from evidence of efficacy in non-status epilepticus models and validation in another species. Here, we report that electrographic seizures and convulsive behavior are strongly reduced in adult mice pre-treated with Ant-134 in the pentylenetetrazol model. Pre-treatment with Ant-134 did not affect the severity of status epilepticus induced by perforant pathway stimulation in adult rats, a toxin-free model of acquired epilepsy. Nevertheless, Ant-134 post-treatment reduced the number of rats developing spontaneous seizures by 86% in the perforant pathway stimulation model and Ant-134 delayed epileptiform activity in a rat ex vivo hippocampal slice model. The potent anticonvulsant effects of Ant-134 in multiple models may encourage pre-clinical development of this approach to epilepsy therapy.

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Apolipoprotein E-mediated modulation of ADAM10 in Alzheimer's disease
Feb. 2017

Abstract:

The APOE4 allele is the strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). It has been associated with an accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) in the brain, which is produced through the sequential cleavage of the amyloid-β precursor protein (AβPP) by β- and γ-secretases. Alternatively, AβPP is also cleaved by α-secretases such as A Disintegrin and metalloproteinase domain-containing protein 10 (ADAM10).

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A critical evaluation of neuroprotective and neurodegenerative MicroRNAs in Alzheimer's disease
Feb. 2017

Abstract:

Currently, 5.4 million Americans suffer from AD, and these numbers are expected to increase up to 16 million by 2050. Despite tremendous research efforts, we still do not have drugs or agents that can delay, or prevent AD and its progression, and we still do not have early detectable biomarkers for AD. Multiple cellular changes have been implicated in AD, including synaptic damage, mitochondrial damage, production and accumulation of Aβ and phosphorylated tau, inflammatory response, deficits in neurotransmitters, deregulation of the cell cycle, and hormonal imbalance. Research into AD has revealed that miRNAs are involved in each of these cellular changes and interfere with gene regulation and translation. Recent discoveries in molecular biology have also revealed that microRNAs play a major role in post-translational regulation of gene expression. The purpose of this article is to review research that has assessed neuroprotective and neurodegenerative characteristics of microRNAs in brain samples from AD transgenic mouse models and patients with AD.

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Hypomethylation of intron1 of α-synuclein gene does not correlate with Parkinson's disease
Feb. 2017

Abstract:

Deregulation of α-synuclein encoding gene (SNCA) is one of the important facets of Parkinson's disease (PD) research. DNA methylation status of SNCA-intron1 has been shown to regulate the α-synuclein expression. The present study is aimed at investigating whether methylation of SNCA-intron1 is associated with higher expression of α-synuclein in PD. We have investigated the intron1 methylation status from 16 post-mortem brain samples comprised of 8 PD and 8 control subjects using bisulfite sequencing. We further correlated this methylation status with α-synuclein protein levels in substantia nigra of that individual using western blot analysis. We did not observe any significant difference in methylation of SNCA-intron1 region between PD and control samples. Moreover, no correlation was observed between methylation of SNCA-intron1 with α-synuclein level. Methylation of SNCA-intron1 region does not correlate with α-synuclein expression in PD samples.

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Abnormal neurogenesis and cortical growth in congenital heart disease
Jan. 2017

Abstract:

Long-term neurological deficits due to immature cortical development are emerging as a major challenge in congenital heart disease (CHD). However, cellular mechanisms underlying dysregulation of perinatal corticogenesis in CHD remain elusive. The subventricular zone (SVZ) represents the largest postnatal niche of neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs). We show that the piglet SVZ resembles its human counterpart and displays robust postnatal neurogenesis. We present evidence that SVZ NSPCs migrate to the frontal cortex and differentiate into interneurons in a region-specific manner. Hypoxic exposure of the gyrencephalic piglet brain recapitulates CHD-induced impaired cortical development. Hypoxia reduces proliferation and neurogenesis in the SVZ, which is accompanied by reduced cortical growth. We demonstrate a similar reduction in neuroblasts within the SVZ of human infants born with CHD. Our findings demonstrate that SVZ NSPCs contribute to perinatal corticogenesis and suggest that restoration of SVZ NSPCs' neurogenic potential is a candidate therapeutic target for improving cortical growth in CHD.

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How Studies of the Serotonin System in Macaque Models of Menopause Relate to Alzheimer's Disease1
Jan. 2017

Abstract:

Serotonin plays a key role in mood or affect, and dysfunction of the serotonin system has been linked to depression in humans and animal models. Depression appears prior to or coincident with overt symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in about 50% of patients, and some experts consider it a risk factor for the development of AD. In addition, AD is more prevalent in women, who also show increased incidence of depression. Indeed, it has been proposed that mechanisms underlying depression overlap the mechanisms thought to hasten AD. Women undergo ovarian failure and cessation of ovarian steroid production in middle age and the postmenopausal period correlates with an increase in the onset of depression and AD. This laboratory has examined the many actions of ovarian steroids in the serotonin system of non-human primates using a rhesus macaque model of surgical menopause with short or long-term estradiol (E) or estradiol plus progesterone (E+P) replacement therapy. In this mini-review, we present a brief synopsis of the relevant literature concerning AD, depression, and serotonin. We also present some of our data on serotonin neuron viability, the involvement of the caspase-independent pathway, and apoptosis-inducing factor in serotonin-neuron viability, as well as gene expression related to neurodegeneration and neuron viability in serotonin neurons from adult and aged surgical menopausal macaques. We show that ovarian steroids, particularly E, are crucial for serotonin neuron function and health. In the absence of E, serotonin neurons are endangered and deteriorating toward apoptosis. The possibility that this scenario may proceed or accompany AD in postmenopausal women seems likely.

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Neuron density is decreased in the prefrontal cortex in Williams syndrome
Jan. 2017

Abstract:

Williams Syndrome (WS) is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder associated with a hemideletion in chromosome 7, which manifests a distinct behavioral phenotype characterized by a hyperaffiliative social drive, in striking contrast to the social avoidance behaviors that are common in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). MRI studies have observed structural and functional abnormalities in WS cortex, including the prefrontal cortex (PFC), a region implicated in social cognition. This study utilizes the Bellugi Williams Syndrome Brain Collection, a unique resource that comprises the largest WS postmortem brain collection in existence, and is the first to quantitatively examine WS PFC cytoarchitecture. We measured neuron density in layers II/III and V/VI of five cortical areas: PFC areas BA 10 and BA 11, primary motor BA 4, primary somatosensory BA 3, and visual area BA 18 in six matched pairs of WS and typically developing (TD) controls. Neuron density in PFC was lower in WS relative to TD, with layers V/VI demonstrating the largest decrease in density, reaching statistical significance in BA 10. In contrast, BA 3 and BA 18 demonstrated a higher density in WS compared to TD, although this difference was not statistically significant. Neuron density in BA 4 was similar in WS and TD. While other cortical areas were altered in WS, prefrontal areas appeared to be most affected. Neuron density is also altered in the PFC of individuals with ASD. Together these findings suggest that the PFC is targeted in neurodevelopmental disorders associated with sociobehavioral alterations.

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A Compendium of Chromatin Contact Maps Reveals Spatially Active Regions in the Human Genome
Nov. 2016

Abstract:

The three-dimensional configuration of DNA is integral to all nuclear processes in eukaryotes, yet our knowledge of the chromosome architecture is still limited. Genome-wide chromosome conformation capture studies have uncovered features of chromatin organization in cultured cells, but genome architecture in human tissues has yet to be explored. Here, we report the most comprehensive survey to date of chromatin organization in human tissues. Through integrative analysis of chromatin contact maps in 21 primary human tissues and cell types, we find topologically associating domains highly conserved in different tissues. We also discover genomic regions that exhibit unusually high levels of local chromatin interactions. These frequently interacting regions (FIREs) are enriched for super-enhancers and are near tissue-specifically expressed genes. They display strong tissue-specificity in local chromatin interactions. Additionally, FIRE formation is partially dependent on CTCF and the Cohesin complex. We further show that FIREs can help annotate the function of non-coding sequence variants.

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Blood-brain barrier and intestinal epithelial barrier alterations in autism spectrum disorders
Nov. 2016

Abstract:

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are complex conditions whose pathogenesis may be attributed to gene-environment interactions. There are no definitive mechanisms explaining how environmental triggers can lead to ASD although the involvement of inflammation and immunity has been suggested. Inappropriate antigen trafficking through an impaired intestinal barrier, followed by passage of these antigens or immune-activated complexes through a permissive blood-brain barrier (BBB), can be part of the chain of events leading to these disorders. Our goal was to investigate whether an altered BBB and gut permeability is part of the pathophysiology of ASD.

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Potential biomarkers to follow the progression and treatment response of Huntington's disease
Nov. 2016

Abstract:

Huntington's disease (HD) is a rare genetic disease caused by expanded polyglutamine repeats in the huntingtin protein resulting in selective neuronal loss. Although genetic testing readily identifies those who will be affected, current pharmacological treatments do not prevent or slow down disease progression. A major challenge is the slow clinical progression and the inability to biopsy the affected tissue, the brain, making it difficult to design short and effective proof of concept clinical trials to assess treatment benefit. In this study, we focus on identifying peripheral biomarkers that correlate with the progression of the disease and treatment benefit. We recently developed an inhibitor of pathological mitochondrial fragmentation, P110, to inhibit neurotoxicity in HD. Changes in levels of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and inflammation markers in plasma, a product of DNA oxidation in urine, mutant huntingtin aggregates, and 4-hydroxynonenal adducts in muscle and skin tissues were all noted in HD R6/2 mice relative to wild-type mice. Importantly, P110 treatment effectively reduced the levels of these biomarkers. Finally, abnormal levels of mtDNA were also found in plasma of HD patients relative to control subjects. Therefore, we identified several potential peripheral biomarkers as candidates to assess HD progression and the benefit of intervention for future clinical trials.

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TDP-43 regulates endogenous retrovirus-K viral protein accumulation
Oct. 2016

Abstract:

The concomitant expression of neuronal TAR DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43) and human endogenous retrovirus-K (ERVK) is a hallmark of ALS. Since the involvement of TDP-43 in retrovirus replication remains controversial, we sought to evaluate whether TDP-43 exerts an effect on ERVK expression. In this study, TDP-43 bound the ERVK promoter in the context of inflammation or proteasome inhibition, with no effect on ERVK transcription. However, over-expression of ALS-associated aggregating forms of TDP-43, but not wild-type TDP-43, significantly enhanced ERVK viral protein accumulation. Human astrocytes and neurons further demonstrated cell-type specific differences in their ability to express and clear ERVK proteins during inflammation and proteasome inhibition. Astrocytes, but not neurons, were able to clear excess ERVK proteins through stress granule formation and autophagy. In vitro findings were validated in autopsy motor cortex tissue from patients with ALS and neuro-normal controls. We further confirmed marked enhancement of ERVK in cortical neurons of patients with ALS. Despite evidence of enhanced stress granule and autophagic response in ALS cortical neurons, these cells failed to clear excess ERVK protein accumulation. This highlights how multiple cellular pathways, in conjunction with disease-associated mutations, can converge to modulate the expression and clearance of viral gene products from genomic elements such as ERVK. In ALS, ERVK protein aggregation is a novel aspect of TDP-43 misregulation contributing towards the pathology of this neurodegenerative disease.

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NF-κB and IRF1 Induce Endogenous Retrovirus K Expression via Interferon-Stimulated Response Elements in Its 5' Long Terminal Repeat
Sept. 2016

Abstract:

Thousands of endogenous retroviruses (ERV), viral fossils of ancient germ line infections, reside within the human genome. Evidence of ERV activity has been observed widely in both health and disease. While this is most often cited as a bystander effect of cell culture or disease states, it is unclear which signals control ERV transcription. Bioinformatic analysis suggests that the viral promoter of endogenous retrovirus K (ERVK) is responsive to inflammatory transcription factors. Here we show that one reason for ERVK upregulation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the presence of functional interferon-stimulated response elements (ISREs) in the viral promoter. Transcription factor overexpression assays revealed independent and synergistic upregulation of ERVK by interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1) and NF-κB isoforms. Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) and LIGHT cytokine treatments of human astrocytes and neurons enhanced ERVK transcription and protein levels through IRF1 and NF-κB binding to the ISREs. We further show that in ALS brain tissue, neuronal ERVK reactivation is associated with the nuclear translocation of IRF1 and NF-κB isoforms p50 and p65. ERVK overexpression can cause motor neuron pathology in murine models. Our results implicate neuroinflammation as a key trigger of ERVK provirus reactivation in ALS. These molecular mechanisms may also extend to the pathobiology of other ERVK-associated inflammatory diseases, such as cancers, HIV infection, rheumatoid arthritis, and schizophrenia.

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Gene expression elucidates functional impact of polygenic risk for schizophrenia
Sept. 2016

Abstract:

Over 100 genetic loci harbor schizophrenia-associated variants, yet how these variants confer liability is uncertain. The CommonMind Consortium sequenced RNA from dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of people with schizophrenia (N = 258) and control subjects (N = 279), creating a resource of gene expression and its genetic regulation. Using this resource, ~20% of schizophrenia loci have variants that could contribute to altered gene expression and liability. In five loci, only a single gene was involved: FURIN, TSNARE1, CNTN4, CLCN3 or SNAP91. Altering expression of FURIN, TSNARE1 or CNTN4 changed neurodevelopment in zebrafish; knockdown of FURIN in human neural progenitor cells yielded abnormal migration. Of 693 genes showing significant case-versus-control differential expression, their fold changes were ≤ 1.33, and an independent cohort yielded similar results. Gene co-expression implicates a network relevant for schizophrenia. Our findings show that schizophrenia is polygenic and highlight the utility of this resource for mechanistic interpretations of genetic liability for brain diseases.

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Activation of p53 in Down Syndrome and in the Ts65Dn Mouse Brain is Associated with a Pro-Apoptotic Phenotype
Aug. 2016

Abstract:

Down syndrome (DS) is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability, resulting from trisomy of chromosome 21. The main feature of DS neuropathology includes early onset of Alzheimer's disease (AD), with deposition of senile plaques and tangles. We hypothesized that apoptosis may be activated in the presence of AD neuropathology in DS, thus we measured proteins associated with upstream and downstream pathways of p53 in the frontal cortex from DS cases with and without AD pathology and from Ts65Dn mice, at different ages. We observed increased acetylation and phosphorylation of p53, coupled to reduced MDM2/p53 complex level and lower levels of SIRT1. Activation of p53 was associated with a number of targets (BAX, PARP1, caspase-3, p21, heat shock proteins, and PGC1α) that were modulated in both DS and DS/AD compared with age-matched controls. In particular, the most relevant changes (increased p-p53 and acetyl-p53 and reduced formation of MDM2/p53 complex) were found to be modified only in the presence of AD pathology in DS. In addition, a similar pattern of alterations in the p53 pathway was found in Ts65Dn mice. These results suggest that p53 may integrate different signals, which can result in a pro-apoptotic-phenotype contributing to AD neuropathology in people with DS.

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Alterations of miRNAs reveal a dysregulated molecular regulatory network in Parkinson's disease striatum.
Aug. 2016

Abstract:

Molecular adaptations in the striatum mediated by dopamine (DA) denervation and/or levodopa (L-dopa) treatments have been implicated in the motor deficits found in Parkinson's disease (PD). Alterations in inflammatory response mechanisms and glutamatergic neurotransmission are reported to play important roles in mediating these changes. However, the mechanisms mediating the molecular adaptations in the striatum are not well understood. Small non-coding microRNAs (miRNAs) influence numerous biological processes including the development and maintenance of striatal neurons by regulating gene expression post-transcriptionally. To investigate miRNA function in human PD striatum, we examined the global expression of miRNAs in postmortem putamen (putamen along with caudate forms the striatum) tissues obtained from PD patients and neurologically normal controls using Nanostring miRNA assays. We found that 6 miRNAs were significantly (p≤0.05) upregulated and 7 miRNAs were downregulated in PD putamen when compared with control. The differential expression (DE) of the 4 highest scoring miRNAs was further confirmed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Ingenuity pathway analysis demonstrated that these miRNAs are enriched in the processes of inflammatory responses. We found that the expression of DE miRNAs in PD putamen negatively correlates with the expression of gene transcripts implicated in inflammatory response with p53 and NF-kB as central signaling molecules. Taken together, our results suggest that in PD striatum, the DE miRNAs are associated with the oxidative stress pathway. This mechanism may contribute to the molecular adaptations and related motor complications found in PD.

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Genome-wide quantification of rare somatic mutations in normal human tissues using massively parallel sequencing
Aug. 2016

Abstract:

We present the bottleneck sequencing system (BotSeqS), a next-generation sequencing method that simultaneously quantifies rare somatic point mutations across the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes. BotSeqS combines molecular barcoding with a simple dilution step immediately before library amplification. We use BotSeqS to show age- and tissue-dependent accumulations of rare mutations and demonstrate that somatic mutational burden in normal human tissues can vary by several orders of magnitude, depending on biologic and environmental factors. We further show major differences between the mutational patterns of the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes in normal tissues. Lastly, the mutation spectra of normal tissues were different from each other, but similar to those of the cancers that arose in them. This technology can provide insights into the number and nature of genetic alterations in normal tissues and can be used to address a variety of fundamental questions about the genomes of diseased tissues.

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Predominant expression of Alzheimer's disease-associated BIN1 in mature oligodendrocytes and localization to white matter tracts
Aug. 2016

Abstract:

Genome-wide association studies have identified BIN1 within the second most significant susceptibility locus in late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). BIN1 undergoes complex alternative splicing to generate multiple isoforms with diverse functions in multiple cellular processes including endocytosis and membrane remodeling. An increase in BIN1 expression in AD and an interaction between BIN1 and Tau have been reported. However, disparate descriptions of BIN1 expression and localization in the brain previously reported in the literature and the lack of clarity on brain BIN1 isoforms present formidable challenges to our understanding of how genetic variants in BIN1 increase the risk for AD.

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Characterisation of interface astroglial scarring in the human brain after blast exposure: a post-mortem case series
Aug. 2016

Abstract:

No evidence-based guidelines are available for the definitive diagnosis or directed treatment of most blast-associated traumatic brain injuries, partly because the underlying pathology is unknown. Moreover, few neuropathological studies have addressed whether blast exposure produces unique lesions in the human brain, and if those lesions are comparable with impact-induced traumatic brain injury. We aimed to test the hypothesis that blast exposure produces unique patterns of damage, differing from that associated with impact-induced, non-blast traumatic brain injuries.

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Insights into neuroepigenetics through human histone deacetylase PET imaging
Aug. 2016

Abstract:

Epigenetic dysfunction is implicated in many neurological and psychiatric diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia. Consequently, histone deacetylases (HDACs) are being aggressively pursued as therapeutic targets. However, a fundamental knowledge gap exists regarding the expression and distribution of HDACs in healthy individuals for comparison to disease states. Here, we report the first-in-human evaluation of neuroepigenetic regulation in vivo. Using positron emission tomography with [(11)C]Martinostat, an imaging probe selective for class I HDACs (isoforms 1, 2, and 3), we found that HDAC expression is higher in cortical gray matter than in white matter, with conserved regional distribution patterns within and between healthy individuals. Among gray matter regions, HDAC expression was lowest in the hippocampus and amygdala. Through biochemical profiling of postmortem human brain tissue, we confirmed that [(11)C]Martinostat selectively binds HDAC isoforms 1, 2, and 3, the HDAC subtypes most implicated in regulating neuroplasticity and cognitive function. In human stem cell-derived neural progenitor cells, pharmacologic-level doses of Martinostat induced changes in genes closely associated with synaptic plasticity, including BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) and SYP (synaptophysin), as well as genes implicated in neurodegeneration, including GRN (progranulin), at the transcript level, in concert with increased acetylation at both histone H3 lysine 9 and histone H4 lysine 12. This study quantifies HDAC expression in the living human brain and provides the foundation for gaining unprecedented in vivo epigenetic information in health and disease.

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The neural chaperone proSAAS blocks α-synuclein fibrillation and neurotoxicity
Aug. 2016

Abstract:

Emerging evidence strongly suggests that chaperone proteins are cytoprotective in neurodegenerative proteinopathies involving protein aggregation; for example, in the accumulation of aggregated α-synuclein into the Lewy bodies present in Parkinson's disease. Of the various chaperones known to be associated with neurodegenerative disease, the small secretory chaperone known as proSAAS (named after four residues in the amino terminal region) has many attractive properties. We show here that proSAAS, widely expressed in neurons throughout the brain, is associated with aggregated synuclein deposits in the substantia nigra of patients with Parkinson's disease. Recombinant proSAAS potently inhibits the fibrillation of α-synuclein in an in vitro assay; residues 158-180, containing a largely conserved element, are critical to this bioactivity. ProSAAS also exhibits a neuroprotective function; proSAAS-encoding lentivirus blocks α-synuclein-induced cytotoxicity in primary cultures of nigral dopaminergic neurons, and recombinant proSAAS blocks α-synuclein-induced cytotoxicity in SH-SY5Y cells. Four independent proteomics studies have previously identified proSAAS as a potential cerebrospinal fluid biomarker in various neurodegenerative diseases. Coupled with prior work showing that proSAAS blocks β-amyloid aggregation into fibrils, this study supports the idea that neuronal proSAAS plays an important role in proteostatic processes. ProSAAS thus represents a possible therapeutic target in neurodegenerative disease.

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VCP recruitment to mitochondria causes mitophagy impairment and neurodegeneration in models of Huntington's disease
Aug. 2016

Abstract:

Mutant Huntingtin (mtHtt) causes neurodegeneration in Huntington's disease (HD) by evoking defects in the mitochondria, but the underlying mechanisms remains elusive. Our proteomic analysis identifies valosin-containing protein (VCP) as an mtHtt-binding protein on the mitochondria. Here we show that VCP is selectively translocated to the mitochondria, where it is bound to mtHtt in various HD models. Mitochondria-accumulated VCP elicits excessive mitophagy, causing neuronal cell death. Blocking mtHtt/VCP mitochondrial interaction with a peptide, HV-3, abolishes VCP translocation to the mitochondria, corrects excessive mitophagy and reduces cell death in HD mouse- and patient-derived cells and HD transgenic mouse brains. Treatment with HV-3 reduces behavioural and neuropathological phenotypes of HD in both fragment- and full-length mtHtt transgenic mice. Our findings demonstrate a causal role of mtHtt-induced VCP mitochondrial accumulation in HD pathogenesis and suggest that the peptide HV-3 might be a useful tool for developing new therapeutics to treat HD.

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Hedgehog signaling promotes basal progenitor expansion and the growth and folding of the neocortex
July 2016

Abstract:

The unique mental abilities of humans are rooted in the immensely expanded and folded neocortex, which reflects the expansion of neural progenitors, especially basal progenitors including basal radial glia (bRGs) and intermediate progenitor cells (IPCs). We found that constitutively active Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling expanded bRGs and IPCs and induced folding in the otherwise smooth mouse neocortex, whereas the loss of Shh signaling decreased the number of bRGs and IPCs and the size of the neocortex. SHH signaling was strongly active in the human fetal neocortex but Shh signaling was not strongly active in the mouse embryonic neocortex, and blocking SHH signaling in human cerebral organoids decreased the number of bRGs. Mechanistically, Shh signaling increased the initial generation and self-renewal of bRGs and IPC proliferation in mice and the initial generation of bRGs in human cerebral organoids. Thus, robust SHH signaling in the human fetal neocortex may contribute to bRG and IPC expansion and neocortical growth and folding.

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mGlu5 positive allosteric modulation normalizes synaptic plasticity defects and motor phenotypes in a mouse model of Rett syndrome
May 2016

Abstract:

Rett syndrome (RS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that shares many symptomatic and pathological commonalities with idiopathic autism. Alterations in protein synthesis-dependent synaptic plasticity (PSDSP) are a hallmark of a number of syndromic forms of autism; in the present work, we explore the consequences of disruption and rescue of PSDSP in a mouse model of RS. We report that expression of a key regulator of synaptic protein synthesis, the metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 (mGlu5) protein, is significantly reduced in both the brains of RS model mice and in the motor cortex of human RS autopsy samples. Furthermore, we demonstrate that reduced mGlu5 expression correlates with attenuated DHPG-induced long-term depression in the hippocampus of RS model mice, and that administration of a novel mGlu5 positive allosteric modulator (PAM), termed VU0462807, can rescue synaptic plasticity defects. Additionally, treatment of Mecp2-deficient mice with VU0462807 improves motor performance (open-field behavior and gait dynamics), corrects repetitive clasping behavior, as well as normalizes cued fear-conditioning defects. Importantly, due to the rationale drug discovery approach used in its development, our novel mGlu5 PAM improves RS phenotypes and synaptic plasticity defects without evoking the overt adverse effects commonly associated with potentiation of mGlu5 signaling (i.e. seizures), or affecting cardiorespiratory defects in RS model mice. These findings provide strong support for the continued development of mGlu5 PAMs as potential therapeutic agents for use in RS, and, more broadly, for utility in idiopathic autism.

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Linking F-box protein 7 and parkin to neuronal degeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD)
Apr. 2016

Abstract:

Mutations of F-box protein 7 (FBXO7) and Parkin, two proteins in ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS), are both implicated in pathogenesis of dopamine (DA) neuron degeneration in Parkinson's disease (PD). Parkin is a HECT/RING hybrid ligase that physically receives ubiquitin on its catalytic centre and passes ubiquitin onto its substrates, whereas FBXO7 is an adaptor protein in Skp-Cullin-F-box (SCF) SCF(FBXO7) ubiquitin E3 ligase complex to recognize substrates and mediate substrates ubiquitination by SCF(FBXO7) E3 ligase. Here, we discuss the overlapping pathophysiologic mechanisms and clinical features linking Parkin and FBXO7 with autosomal recessive PD. Both proteins play an important role in neuroprotective mitophagy to clear away impaired mitochondria. Parkin can be recruited to impaired mitochondria whereas cellular stress can promote FBXO7 mitochondrial translocation. PD-linked FBXO7 can recruit Parkin into damaged mitochondria and facilitate its aggregation. WT FBXO7, but not PD-linked FBXO7 mutants can rescue DA neuron degeneration in Parkin null Drosophila. A better understanding of the common pathophysiologic mechanisms of these two proteins could unravel specific pathways for targeted therapy in PD.

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MDM2 inhibition rescues neurogenic and cognitive deficits in a mouse model of fragile X syndrome
Apr. 2016

Abstract:

Fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited intellectual disability, is caused by loss of the fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP). However, the mechanism remains unclear, and effective treatment is lacking. We show that loss of FMRP leads to activation of adult mouse neural stem cells (NSCs) and a subsequent reduction in the production of neurons. We identified the ubiquitin ligase mouse double minute 2 homolog (MDM2) as a target of FMRP. FMRP regulates Mdm2 mRNA stability, and loss of FMRP resulted in elevated MDM2 mRNA and protein. Further, we found that increased MDM2 expression led to reduced P53 expression in adult mouse NSCs, leading to alterations in NSC proliferation and differentiation. Treatment with Nutlin-3, a small molecule undergoing clinical trials for treating cancer, specifically inhibited the interaction of MDM2 with P53, and rescued neurogenic and cognitive deficits in FMRP-deficient mice. Our data reveal a potential regulatory role for FMRP in the balance between adult NSC activation and quiescence, and identify a potential new treatment for fragile X syndrome.

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Elevated GFAP Protein in Anterior Cingulate Cortical White Matter in Males With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Dec. 2015

Abstract:

Based on evidence of abnormalities in axon thickness and neuronal disorganization, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is commonly considered to be a condition resulting from neuronal dysfunction. Yet, recent findings suggest that non-neuronal cell types also contribute to ASD pathology. To investigate the role of glial cells in ASD, a combination of protein and gene expression analyses were used to determine levels of two glial markers, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG), in the postmortem brain tissue from control and ASD donors. Levels of GFAP immunoreactivity (ir) were significantly elevated (P = 0.008) in anterior cingulate cortex (Brodmann area 24; BA24) white matter of ASD donors compared to control donors. In contrast, GFAP-ir levels were similar in BA24 gray matter from ASD and control donors. MOG-ir was also similar in both BA24 white and gray matter from ASD and control donors. In anterior prefrontal cortex (BA10), there were no significant differences in GFAP-ir or MOG-ir in either white or gray matter comparing ASD to control donors. Levels of expression of the genes GFAP and MOG also showed no differences between control and ASD donors in BA24 and BA10 white and gray matter. Collectively, these data imply that ASD is associated with an activation of white matter astrocytes in the anterior cingulate cortex as a result of a yet undefined cellular insult. Research is needed to investigate the molecular pathways that underlie this astrocyte reaction and such research may yield important clues regarding the etiology of ASD.

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Pallidal neuronal apolipoprotein E in pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration recapitulates ischemic injury to the globus pallidus.
Dec. 2015

Abstract:

Pantothenate kinase-associated neurodegeneration (PKAN) is a progressive movement disorder that is due to mutations in PANK2. Pathologically, it is a member of a class of diseases known as neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA) and features increased tissue iron and ubiquitinated proteinaceous aggregates in the globus pallidus. We have previously determined that these aggregates represent condensed residue derived from degenerated pallidal neurons. However, the protein content, other than ubiquitin, of these aggregates remains unknown. In the present study, we performed biochemical and immunohistochemical studies to characterize these aggregates and found them to be enriched in apolipoprotein E that is poorly soluble in detergent solutions. However, we did not determine a significant association between APOE genotype and the clinical phenotype of disease in our database of 81 cases. Rather, we frequently identified similar ubiquitin- and apolipoprotein E-enriched lesions in these neurons in non-PKAN patients in the penumbrae of remote infarcts that involve the globus pallidus, and occasionally in other brain sites that contain large γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic neurons. Our findings, taken together, suggest that tissue or cellular hypoxic/ischemic injury within the globus pallidus may underlie the pathogenesis of PKAN.

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F-box protein 7 mutations promote protein aggregation in mitochondria and inhibit mitophagy
Nov. 2015

Abstract:

The mutations of F-box protein 7 (FBXO7) gene (T22M, R378G and R498X) are associated with a severe form of autosomal recessive juvenile-onset Parkinson's disease (PD) (PARK 15). Here we demonstrated that wild-type (WT) FBXO7 is a stress response protein and it can play both cytoprotective and neurotoxic roles. The WT FBXO7 protein is vital to cell mitophagy and can facilitate mitophagy to protect cells, whereas mutant FBXO7 inhibits mitophagy. Upon stress, the endogenous WT FBXO7 gets up-regulated, concentrates into mitochondria and forms FBXO7 aggregates in mitochondria. However, FBXO7 mutations aggravate deleterious FBXO7 aggregation in mitochondria. The FBXO7 aggregation and toxicity can be alleviated by Proline, glutathione (GSH) and coenzyme Q10, whereas deleterious FBXO7 aggregation in mitochondria can be aggravated by prohibitin 1 (PHB1), a mitochondrial protease inhibitor. The overexpression of WT FBXO7 could lead to FBXO7 protein aggregation and dopamine neuron degeneration in transgenic Drosophila heads. The elevated FBXO7 expression and aggregation were identified in human fibroblast cells from PD patients. FBXO7 can also form aggregates in brains of PD and Alzheimer's disease. Our study provides novel pathophysiologic insights and suggests that FBXO7 may be a potential therapeutic target in FBXO7-linked neuron degeneration in PD.

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Somatic mutation in single human neurons tracks developmental and transcriptional history
Oct. 2015

Abstract:

Neurons live for decades in a postmitotic state, their genomes susceptible to DNA damage. Here we survey the landscape of somatic single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) in the human brain. We identified thousands of somatic SNVs by single-cell sequencing of 36 neurons from the cerebral cortex of three normal individuals. Unlike germline and cancer SNVs, which are often caused by errors in DNA replication, neuronal mutations appear to reflect damage during active transcription. Somatic mutations create nested lineage trees, allowing them to be dated relative to developmental landmarks and revealing a polyclonal architecture of the human cerebral cortex. Thus, somatic mutations in the brain represent a durable and ongoing record of neuronal life history, from development through postmitotic function.

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Down syndrome individuals with Alzheimer's disease have a distinct neuroinflammatory phenotype compared to sporadic Alzheimer's disease
Sept. 2015

Abstract:

Down syndrome (DS) is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability and is primarily caused by the triplication of chromosome 21. The overexpression of amyloid precursor protein gene may be sufficient to drive Alzheimer's disease (AD) neuropathology that is observed in virtually all individuals with DS by the age of 40 years. There is relatively little information about inflammation in the DS brain and how the genetics of DS may alter inflammatory responses and modify the course of AD pathogenesis in this disorder. Using the macrophage classification system of M1, M2a, M2b, and M2c inflammatory phenotypes, we have shown that the early stages of AD are associated with a bias toward an M1 or M2a phenotype. In later stages of AD, markers of M1, M2a and M2c are elevated. We now report the inflammatory phenotype in a DS autopsy series to compare this with the progression in sporadic AD. Tissue from young DS cases (under 40 years of age, pre-AD) show a bias toward M1 and M2b states with little M2a or M2c observed. Older DS cases (over 40 with AD pathology) show a distinct bias toward an M2b phenotype. Importantly, this is distinct from sporadic AD where the M2b phenotype has been rarely, if ever observed in postmortem studies. Stimulated by immune complex activation of microglial cells and toll-like receptor activation, the M2b phenotype represents a unique neuroinflammatory state in diseased brain and may have significant implications for therapeutic intervention for persons with DS.

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Sex differences in glutamate receptor gene expression in major depression and suicide
Sept. 2015

Abstract:

Accumulating data indicate that the glutamate system is disrupted in major depressive disorder (MDD), and recent clinical research suggests that ketamine, an antagonist of the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor (GluR), has rapid antidepressant efficacy. Here we report findings from gene expression studies of a large cohort of postmortem subjects, including subjects with MDD and controls. Our data reveal higher expression levels of the majority of glutamatergic genes tested in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in MDD (F21,59=2.32, P=0.006). Posthoc data indicate that these gene expression differences occurred mostly in the female subjects. Higher expression levels of GRIN1, GRIN2A-D, GRIA2-4, GRIK1-2, GRM1, GRM4, GRM5 and GRM7 were detected in the female patients with MDD. In contrast, GRM5 expression was lower in male MDD patients relative to male controls. When MDD suicides were compared with MDD non-suicides, GRIN2B, GRIK3 and GRM2 were expressed at higher levels in the suicides. Higher expression levels were detected for several additional genes, but these were not statistically significant after correction for multiple comparisons. In summary, our analyses indicate a generalized disruption of the regulation of the GluRs in the DLPFC of females with MDD, with more specific GluR alterations in the suicides and in the male groups. These data reveal further evidence that, in addition to the NMDA receptor, the AMPA, kainate and the metabotropic GluRs may be targets for the development of rapidly acting antidepressant drugs.

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NTRK2 expression levels are reduced in laser captured pyramidal neurons from the anterior cingulate cortex in males with autism spectrum disorder
May 2015

Abstract:

The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is a brain area involved in modulating behavior associated with social interaction, disruption of which is a core feature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Functional brain imaging studies demonstrate abnormalities of the ACC in ASD as compared to typically developing control patients. However, little is known regarding the cellular basis of these functional deficits in ASD. Pyramidal neurons in the ACC are excitatory glutamatergic neurons and key cellular mediators of the neural output of the ACC. This study was designed to investigate the potential role of ACC pyramidal neurons in ASD brain pathology.

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